First of all, your divorce attorney cannot quit until you agree or the court allows him or her to do so, according to divorce law. If you think your lawyer is getting ready to “fire” you, confront him or her for a candid discussion. Try to determine why he or she wishes to terminate your working relationship. If you are being difficult or not following your attorney’s advice, be careful not to take that behavior to your next lawyery. If your attorney is quitting for reasons of illness or retirement, he or she is obligated to refer you on to another lawyer. If all else fails, call your local or state bar association and ask for referrals in your area. You can generally get a continuance from the courts for enough time to get a new attorney up to speed on your case. The courts understand that it takes time for a newly appointed lawyer to acquaint him/herself with your matter, so they will almost definitely grant your case more time.
If your attorney does not want to handle your case, it could be that the synergy you need with a legal advocate is absent. When clients ask me if this is the case, I always ask if perhaps they want to make an lawyer change as well. If the attorney/client relationship is not working on one side, it probably isn’t working on the other side either. It’s best to find someone who is totally behind and beside you.
Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Blank Rome LLP, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.