Commercial Debt Collection: What Happens When You or Your Attorney No Longer Want to Work Together on Your Case?

Commercial Debt CollectionAn attorney agreed to take on your commercial debt collection case. Your corporate attorney, general practitioner, friend or relative took the case as a favor for you. But, you have grown tired of paying hourly to collect an aged receivable, the attorney lost interest in your case, or your case is not leading to a payday. Whatever the reason, the result is you and/or your attorney wants out of the case. And what seemed (at the beginning) to be a straight forward, easy engagement, has transformed into an, ahem, ugly situation.

Now what? What can be done to save the case and the relationship? No one is best served by a strained attorney/client relationship.

A few possibilities may occur:

  • You decide to find alternate counsel for your commercial debt collection case and it is mutually agreed upon between you and your attorney. If you do, the attorney can be “substituted in” and the case can proceed without a hitch. Or,
  • You decide that you will not find other counsel. The attorney will need to request permission from the Court to be relieved from the New York commercial debt collection case. There are several grounds for granting the attorneys request. Assuming the Court grants the motion, the case is usually placed on hold for 30 or 60 days to allow you, the client, to obtain new counsel. Or,
  • Your attorney is happy having you as a client but you are dissatisfied with the relationship. If you want to “fire” the attorney you may find substitute counsel. However, if the termination is “without cause” your attorney may place a “lien” on the file or file a breach of contract claim against you for the reasonable value of their fees.

Think hard and fast before asking or accepting help in a debt collection case from an attorney who does not routinely handle such matters. If the attorney is doing you a favor or it is out of the norm for them, think again. Seek representation from someone who knows the business of commercial debt collection.

A debt collection attorney is familiar with the procedures and nuances of debt collection demand and litigation. To ensure both you and your New York commercial debt collection attorney are on the same page from the beginning, set reasonable expectations for your case and chart out the course of litigation, including the time, expenses, understanding the stages and anticipated outcome at each stage.