Grant Gaines is senior litigation partner at Patel Gaines, a Texas-based law firm. He oversees the firm’s commercial litigation matters and has worked for numerous construction contractors.
Every construction business owner and executive’s plate is overflowing on a daily basis. That’s just the way it is. The last thing any of them need to add to their neverending to-do list is switch law firms. But every vendor is crucial to the company’s success. Sub-par performance is simply not acceptable, whether you’re talking about the company’s legal counsel, its accountant, IT consultant or the company responsible for cleaning the offices. If you have doubts about your legal counsel, here are the two biggest questions that come to mind:
Reasons to make a change are as varied as the names on law firm doors. Some of the more common indicators include:
So, let’s say you’re seeing one or more of these troubling signs, and you know you must make a change. You don’t want the changeover to be a huge time suck since the leadership team is already running at full capacity. And you want the switch to be as painless, smooth and quick as possible. How do you do that? The most important thing to do before letting your current counsel go is to first locate new counsel. Here are some important issues to discuss with any new law firm you consider:
Once you check all those boxes and decide on a new law firm, it is time to transition. The new firm should be willing to help contact your current legal counsel and break up with them on your behalf, if you prefer, taking one chore off your list and usually leading to a smoother transition. Nonetheless, you should always reach out to your prior firm during the transition to explain the reasons for switching. This will provide useful knowledge for the firm moving forward and hopefully allow you to leave on good terms.
It is also important to understand that you will still owe the outgoing firm for any time billed or expenses accumulated before you hired the new firm, and that your new firm is not usually there to handle prior billing disputes.
Be patient with the new legal team as they ramp up on your account. Assuming you provided all the information previously discussed, everyone should have a clear grasp of the goals, timelines and expectations. That will allow the new relationship to get off to a solid start without any surprises.