A co-counsel agreement is a written agreement that is entered into between two attorneys who agree to represent the same client. DC personal injury lawyers sometimes seek partnership with other lawyers who have particular expertise in a certain area of the case.
What to Consider When Selecting Co-Counsel
When selecting co-counsel, an attorney should consider what additional skills the other attorney can bring to that particular case, whether it is a particular area of knowledge, familiarity with the issues in that case, or a current relationship or prior relationship between the client and co-counsel.
Role Clients Play
How much of a role a client plays in selecting co-counsel really depends upon the individual client and the issues involved in his/her case. If the client has an attorney with whom he/she has a pre-existing relationship, a person they feel very comfortable with and whom they trust to provide advice, then in that scenario, a client may play a heavy role of selecting co-counsel.
Oftentimes, it may be the attorney who seeks out co-counsel either to help with an overloaded caseload or to assist in particular area of the law. When the attorney selects co-counsel, obviously, this issue has to be disclosed to the client. Ultimately, the client has to agree to the inclusion of co-counsel.
Role Co-Counsel Plays In a Case
Co-counsel can play a number of roles. Sometimes co-counsel may simply want another attorney to handle the case from that point forward. Conversely, on other occasions co-counsel shares the burden of advancing the case equally with both lawyers working on the case equally. It really depends upon the reason that co-counsel was brought into the case and the facts of that particular case will likely determine the role of co-counsel will play.
The manner in which co-counsel interacts with the client also varies from case to case. If the client already had some pre-existing relationship with counsel, the client may feel more comfortable speaking with that attorney. Other times, parties—meaning both attorneys and the client—may agree as to who is the point of contact in that particular case. Then, the client may interact only with that one designated person. Our firm’s approach is to put the clients’ desires and needs first.
The addition of co-counsel may maximize a recovery in a number of different ways. A lawyer may not be as familiar with that particular type of case or may not have the experience that another co-counsel may have in handling that particular type of case in that particular jurisdiction. Thus, the addition of co-counsel can be a valuable asset to assist in these aspects of the case.
When someone brings co-counsel into a particular case, it is done with the best interest of the client in mind. Again, depending on the specifics of that individual case, co-counsel should be there to bring a particular attribute to that case to receive the best outcome possible.
Steps Co-Counsel Can Take to Protect Avoid Potential Issues
The best thing that a co-counsel can do is make sure that clients understand their role in the case. There should be a written agreement between the two attorneys as to who is going to do what, what the division of fees will be and how the case will proceed among both attorneys.
If everyone is on the same page, so to speak, then hopefully there should be no issues. Issues typically arise when someone has not thought of a scenario—be it client interaction, roles at trial, or the distribution of attorney’s fees when they entered into their written agreement.