If a lawyer moves in with another firm, how will your case be affected?

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If a lawyer moves in with another firm, how will your case be affected?

My representative in a case of an automobile accident, filed last year, left to join another firm. I was given new reprensentatives and told I would have to start the process over again. Is this legal?

Asked on July 18, 2012 under Accident Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, it sounds as if you were not a client of this lawyer personally, but of the firm he/she was at. If that's the case, then when the lawyer leaves the firm, IF you stay with that firm, they would have to assign another lawyer; depending on what was done previously, the status of the case, etc., it may be that they have to begin some or all of the work over--though if a case was already filed, it's difficult to see why they necessarily would.

Nothing in the law requires a case to start over when a new lawyer takes over; if they find the need to start over, it is most likely one of the following--

1) The previous attorney did something "wrong" or with which the new attorneys do not agree and do not support

2) The previous attorney did not document matters properly and the new lawyer is having difficulty picking up the case from where it was at

3) The previous attorney acted correctly, but somewhere during the transition, some deadline was missed

4) The new lawyer(s) or the firm wants to run up additional billable hours by redoing work.

Note that if you had faith in the prior lawyer but not the rest of his/her firm, you could see if  he/she will take your case over at his/her new firm; you have the right to discontinue representation at the current firm (you'd have to pay for all work done) and go to a new law firm if you wanted.

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