It is important to remember that divorce is not an easy thing and can often be more like riding an emotional roller coaster. Your attorney should do his or her best to make sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible; however, lawyers cannot always keep the roller coaster on an even plane. If you are having a problem with your lawyer, you should first try discussing the problem with him or her. Good communication is essential in any relationship, and it is absolutely vital in the attorney-client relationship. Usually, if you discuss a problem with your lawyer, he or she should be able to find a way to work out the problem.
If you cannot work out the situation with your lawyer before the resolution of your case, you do have the right to fire your lawyer and retain another attorney. In such a situation, the lawyer has an absolute obligation to return your file either directly to you or to your new lawyer. However, be aware that you will still be responsible for any fees that you may have incurred and for the time that lawyer has already spent on your case. It is also important to bear in mind that, in most instances, your new attorney will be bound by the same deadlines, trial dates, etc. that existed with your former attorney. Make sure that your new attorney is apprised of the case chronology and timelines so that they can assess whether or not they can get up to speed without jeopardizing your case.
Finally, if you believe that your lawyer has done something unethical in your representation, you can file a grievance against him or her with the State Bar of Texas. For more information on the grievance process contact the State Bar of Texas at 1-800-932-1900 or at www.texasbar.com/complaints.
J. Lindsey Short, Jr., is a partner with former Houston firm Short · Carter · Morris. He is also a past-president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.