Can a Lawyer Have a Lawyer?

  • Time to read: 4 min.

Yes, a lawyer can have a lawyer of their own, and it is fairly common.

Let us explain.

Can a Lawyer Have a Lawyer? (Explained)

Disclaimer

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Lawyers hire other lawyers all the time.

Lawyers are people, too.

We make mistakes, we have disputes, we need legal advice.

Sometimes that advice is personal, and sometimes it is associated with our practices.

Sometimes lawyers even help us with our cases.

As a practicing attorney, I hired a lawyer for myself (and the practice) often.

Some examples of times I contacted and hired another lawyer (or a firm) include:

  • When a case I was working on and completely qualified to handle took a left turn into an area of law that I was not as experienced in. I hired additional counsel to advise and guide me, with the knowledge and consent of my client.
  • In another case, we hired another outside attorney not to guide us, but to take on a specific angle of the case that we didn’t really want to handle. You might see an attorney handling a wrongful death case hire another attorney to handle the probate portion of the matter while the lead firm runs with the wrongful death case. Another example is where a divorce lawyer hires another attorney to handle drafting technical supplemental judgments that divide assets (like QDROs).
  • Sometimes the case is too big for a small practice to handle, and bringing on another firm to co-counsel and share the load is necessary and prudent.
  • I often conferred with outside counsel when the case went into ethical territories that I was not comfortable with, like when representing more than one party.
  • When our firm wanted to purchase an experience piece of real estate.
  • I also hired an attorney when a client accused me of making a mistake in their case (the matter was ultimately dismissed).

Lawyers are usually well-versed in one area of law.

We are able and intelligent enough to gain knowledge and experience in other areas of law when called upon to do so.

But even so, there’s no substitute for an expert when your business and personal life depends on it.

I would not feel comfortable handling a legal matter for myself that I had only “dabbled” in.

For example, I often handled cases in family law and criminal law.

This experience would not prepare me to handle a copyright dispute associated with this website, not even close.

In fact, it is often recommended that attorneys with experience in a particular area of law still hire an attorney to handle a matter for them in that area of law, as being a participant/party to the case makes it hard to see the whole situation, or to move past emotional involvement.

For example, an experienced divorce attorney getting a divorce will usually hire another attorney to represent her/him, even though the attorney knows how to handle the case from beginning to end.

When The Client’s Consent Is Necessary

Attorneys are free to hire attorneys for their own personal matters at any time.

However, if the attorney’s attorney is being hired to help with a client’s case, the client’s informed consent may be required.

This is definitely the case if the client is going to be footing the bill for the additional attorney.

An attorney who is bringing on more experienced counsel to help with the case should probably disclose the existence of the relationship to make sure the client is fully happy and comfortable with the fact that their lawyer needs help.

If the attorney thinks that he may have made a mistake, and wants to confer with malpractice counsel or another attorney experienced in that area of law, the attorney can usually do with without informing the client.

In the end, if the lawyer hiring another attorney to assist him isn’t sure whether that fact needs to be disclosed to the client, he should review the ethical rules of the state or even consider consulting with ethics counsel.

Lawyers Help Each Other A Lot

You may not realize it, but lawyers talk shop a lot.

We talk on the phone, grab lunch, or meet after work to decompress and talk about the day’s work.

Without disclosing confidential details about our clients, we often compare notes about the progress of a case, brainstorm solutions, swap war stories, and generally help and advise each other.

We also seek the paid assistance of an attorney any time we think it might be necessary, because we often see (in our clients) what happens when people fail to do so.

Wrap Up

Want to learn more about our justice system?

Browse our free legal library guides for more information.

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