Can I Get a Second Opinion?
Yes. You can get a second, or third, or fourth, or more opinions from as many lawyers as you want, EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A LAWYER. If you have a lawyer, you can go talk to a different lawyer in a different firm about your case. There is no law or Georgia State Bar rule prohibiting it. Neither you nor the lawyer will get in trouble, as long as there is no tortious interference with the contract.
You do not need permission from your lawyer or anybody else to seek and receive a second opinion. You can get a second opinion for any reason or no reason at all. Getting a second opinion doesn’t mean you have to fire your lawyer and hire the new lawyer, but you certainly have the right to fire your lawyer anytime you want to. Depending on the terms of your contract, you may be responsible for paying the lawyer some money for expenses and/or fees, but that doesn’t prevent you from firing the lawyer and hiring a different lawyer.
If you have doubts about your right to get a second opinion, click on the following link www.gabar.org/aboutthebar/faq/faqs.cfm?filter=Ethics, and you will be taken to the State Bar of Georgia’s web site where the following appears as question #1:
Q: A woman came to my office for help with her divorce case, but there is another lawyer representing her now. May I speak with her?
Yes, unless you currently represent someone whose interests are adverse to hers. Rule 4.2 does not prohibit a disinterested lawyer from providing a second opinion to someone who is currently represented by counsel.
Why would someone seek a second opinion? Pretend that a drunk truck driver ran a red light and crashed into your car, leaving you with broken bones and hospitalized with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As if dealing with your broken bones and hospital bills isn’t enough, the insurance companies are hounding you for a recorded statement. You don’t know what to do, so you decide to talk to a lawyer. Which lawyer?
Well, there’s that lawyer you saw on TV, the one chasing an ambulance down the road, or there’s that other TV lawyer, the one waving a check in front of his face saying things like, “I can get you a check!” You think, “Hmm…well, I could use a check, and they’re on TV, so they must know what they’re doing, right?” So, you call the number on TV, and lickety split a lady shows up in your hospital room carrying a stack of papers for you to sign.
“Just sign here,” she says.
You ask, “who are you?”
Lady: “I’m Britney from Mr. Sleazy Sleazebag’s law firm. You know, the one on TV.”
You: “Oh. I thought I would be able to talk to him.”
Lady: “Oh no ma’am. He’s much too busy. Just sign right here.”
You: “Well, okay. Will I get to talk to Mr. Sleazebag?”
Lady: “Sure you will. Just sign right here. Sign your name right there.”
You: “What am I signing?”
Lady: “Oh these are just forms that have to be signed. Just sign here.”
So you sign the contract and other papers.
Lady: “Thank you ma’am. Someone will be in touch.”
You: “Wait a second! What do I do about my bills and my lost wages?”
Lady: “Bye now!”
And she shuts the door behind her.
Days go by. Weeks go by, and you haven’t received any word from anyone at Sleazebag’s office. When you call his office, a person tell you that Sleazebag is away from the office but will return your call as soon as he can. He never calls.
You begin to worry. You ask for an appointment to meet Sleazebag but are told he doesn’t have any available appointments until September. It is June.
In the meantime, your hospital bill has been turned over to a collection agency, and they are calling you night and day. Regret overwhelms you.
You regret signing that contract.
You regret not asking more questions.
You regret not demanding satisfactory answers to your questions.
You regret being duped by a TV huckster.
You regret relying on a TV commercial for such an important decision as retaining a lawyer in such a serious legal matter.
You regret not seeking a second opinion sooner.
You regret not interviewing other lawyers before deciding which one to hire.
As if regret was not bad enough, you are embarrassed. You don’t want to admit that you made a foolish decision to sign that huckster’s contract. You know he’s not looking out for your best interests, but you always try to avoid confrontation, and you know that seeking a second opinion could lead to a confrontation with Sleazebag.
This is a common scenario that plays out over and over and over again, not just in Georgia but across the country. Lawyers spend tons of money for flashy TV commercials that essentially guarantee that if you call them, you will get a check. Of course, no one can guarantee the outcome of any case. There are too many factors and variables involved. Nevertheless, these hucksters prey on the most vulnerable demographic, those without much formal education, out of work, confined to their home or hospital watching TV.
If you are in this situation, you are justified in seeking a second opinion about your case. You are justified in seeking and receiving satisfactory answers to your questions about your case. After all, IT IS YOUR CASE. It is not a lawyer’s case. All the lawyer can do is give you advice. Your lawyer cannot make decisions for you.