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Court approves guidance for successor lawyers

The Supreme Court has approved a legal ethics opinion to insure clients are properly informed of the possible consequences of changing lawyers in the middle of a contingency fee case.

LEO 1878 prescribes what a successor lawyer must explain to a client who is firing his or her first lawyer.

“Lawyer Number Two has a duty to advise or warn the client that Lawyer Number One may have a claim for his fees and may file a lien on any recovery and that the combined fees may exceed what the client would have paid Lawyer Number One had she not fired him,” Legal Ethics Committee chair Dennis Quinn said Feb. 27 as he described the LEO in a bar meeting.

The court approved LEO 1878 in a May 17 order.

The court also amended its rules to make a number of changes in VSB discipline proceedings. The amendments are aimed at promoting greater fairness, efficiency, consistency and transparency in bar proceedings, according to the VSB.

The rule changes take effect July 16.