A few years ago, it was widely reported that actor and director Angelina Jolie had chosen to end her attorney-client relationship with divorce attorney Laura Wasser. In the wake of this change, Jolie became a client of attorney Samantha Bley Dejean, who is reported to specialize in protecting the best interests of children.
Ordinarily, when a client opts to change his or her legal representation, this professional transition is of little interest to anyone beyond the client and those immediately affected by the client’s legal interests. As a result, Jolie’s legal news would usually only be of interest to her former and current attorneys, her former spouse, and her children. However, good reasons exist for the general public to pay attention to this transition. In the end, Jolie’s choices may serve as an important example for other Americans navigating family law disputes.
Why Switch Attorneys?
There are many reasons why someone may choose to switch their legal representation from one attorney to another, just as a patient may choose to switch doctors for any number of reasons. Sometimes, a client doesn’t feel as heard or respected as he or she would like. Other times, an attorney is too busy to provide a client with the personal attention he or she needs. Because life is unpredictable, a change may become necessary in the event that an attorney is seriously injured in an accident, becomes terribly ill, or passes away.
It is unclear why Jolie chose to change her legal representation. But the most important lesson her situation illustrates is that it is possible to do so. Too often, individuals who have hired lawyers feel that they have no choice but to stay clients of those attorneys or their firms until the resolution of their cases are complete. In reality, it is rare that a client cannot effectively transition his or her legal representation. For example, if a hearing in an individual’s case is being held the next day and there has been no significant misconduct on the part of that individual’s current attorney, a court may not grant that person’s new attorney a case extension so that he or she can become familiar with the details of the case. As a result, the client seeking a switch may be better served by waiting until the current hearing is complete before switching attorneys.
Legal Help Is Available
If you have questions about your family law case and your current attorney is not being as responsive as you need him or her to be, consider speaking with another family law attorney. Just as patients often seek out second opinions before committing to specific medical treatment plans, it is perfectly acceptable to speak with an attorney to get a second opinion on your legal matter. Once you have met with multiple attorneys, you can make the choice to stay with your original counsel or to create a new attorney-client relationship.
Please just keep in mind that if you switch legal representation too close to the date of your next hearing, you may not leave your attorney enough time to get caught up on the legal details of your case. Although the judge may grant your attorney an extension in order to obtain adequate time to prepare, this is a courtesy granted generally as a matter of judicial discretion so you may not be able to count on the gift of extra time. Contact a lawyer, like a family lawyer from The McKinney Law Group, for more information today.