Montgomery Bar Association Advises How to Handle a Major Objection to an Attorney

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The Montgomery Bar Association has good advice for legal clients who may be at odds with counsel.
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Hiring an attorney is something akin to finding any other kind of professional service, such as a dentist or veterinarian. Opinions from family, friends, or other clients can help. So can online resources like Super Lawyers, which earned a Forbes recommendation.

But even after due diligence, attorney-client relationships can wind up as a mismatch.

What then?

From its Norristown office, the Montgomery Bar Association provides worthy advice for clients finding themselves at odds with the counsel they’ve engaged.

Working Out the Difficulties

The most important thing to remember is this: Under no circumstances should clients feel it necessary to continue to be represented by a lawyer with whom they become dissatisfied.

But neither should they act in haste.

Often a conference with the lawyer can ease concerns. He or she may not be aware of the dissatisfaction.

An air-clearing reset may be all that’s necessary to solidify the legal team.

However, if, even after this sidebar, things are still awry, it may be time to find new counsel. Know, however, that a dismissed lawyer may be entitled to a fee for services rendered to that point in the engagement.

If a client moves forward and decides on a new attorney, the departing lawyer has certain obligations and duties owed.

For example, he or she must:

  • Return all documents and papers in possession
  • File necessary withdrawal stipulations with the court
  • Assist a new lawyer in familiarizing him- or herself with the case

Ethical Concerns

Clients with deeper concerns that question a lawyer’s conduct in ethical terms have official recourse. They may file a complaint with a regional attorney disciplinary authority. Montgomery County’s is the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, District II, 820 Adams Avenue, Suite 170, Trooper, 610-650-8210.

If a lawyer-client disconnect results from fees, arbitration is a worthy resolution option.

Parties in these cases must agree to attend an informal conference before the Fee Dispute Committee, in the presence of the attorney against whom the complaint is lodged.

They must also agree to be bound by the decision of the Fee Dispute Committee and not file any appeal with any court.

Without these stipulations, the committee will not hear any case.

This Committee conducts hearings on complaints initiated by clients of lawyers on Montgomery County matters (or on Montgomery County lawyers themselves). It has been instrumental in resolving disagreements between attorneys and clients that would have otherwise resulted in expensive and time-consuming litigation.

Additional Resources

Readers interested in more information can call the Montgomery Bar Association, 610-279-9660.

The electronic form for filing a fee dispute is also downloadable from the Montgomery Bar Association.


2021 comments from the Montgomery Bar Foundation president.

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