When you select the best Marietta car accident lawyer, or the best Atlanta product liability lawyer, to handle your case, you ask friends and neighbors for references. You do your research on the Internet to figure out which lawyers have received awards and been recognized by their peers. Choosing a lawyer is serious business, because that person will represent you in court as you try to receive compensation for one of the most devastating things that has ever happened to you. You want to select a lawyer you can trust, who will listen to you. You want to find a lawyer with the experience to represent you well.
Georgia law recognizes that when you choose an attorney, you are making a very personal decision. Whether you pick a Decatur personal injury lawyer, or a contract lawyer to represent your company, the courts in Georgia protect your right to choose your own attorney. "'The right to counsel is an important interest which requires that any curtailment of the client's right to counsel of choice be approached with great caution.'" Southern General Insurance Company v. Holt, 409 S.E.2d 852, 200 Ga. App. 759  (1991), quoting Cherry v. Coast House, Ltd., 257 Ga. 403, 359 S.E.2d 904 (1987). See also Amwest Surety Ins. Co. v. Interstate Construction Co., Inc., 442 S.E.2d 772, 212 Ga. App. 590  (1994). Said in layman's terms, courts know that picking a lawyer is a big deal, and they do not want to interfere with your choice.
Courts do have the power - which they use very sparingly - to disqualify an attorney from representing a client. "Whether an attorney should be disqualified from representing a client rests in the discretion of the trial judge. Clos v. Pugia, 204 Ga. App. 843, 845 (1) (420 SE2d 774) (1992)." Welch v. Welch, 244 Ga.App. 685, 536 S.E.2d 583 (2000) (upholding trial court's decision refusing to disqualify counsel and refusing to allow counsel to be called as a witness at trial).
For obvious reasons, courts are reluctant to interfere with the client's right to pick an attorney. "Disqualification of a party's chosen counsel is an extraordinary remedy and should only be resorted to sparingly. . . . We view motions to disqualify on this ground with some skepticism, because they are sometimes filed for tactical or harassing reasons, rather than the proper reason . . . . " Singer Island Ltd. Inc. v. Budget Construction Co., 714 So.2d 651  (Fla.App. Dist.4 1998) (citations omitted). Even deposing (much less disqualifying) opposing counsel is "offensive to our adversarial system and is an extraordinary step which will rarely be justified." Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. Camara De Comercio Latino-Americana De Los Estados Unidos, Inc., 813 So.2d 250 (Fla.App. Dist.3 2002).
In all the cases I have handled in my 25 years of experience as an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I have only seen a judge disqualify lawyers one time. I did not move to disqualify the other side's counsel, but the judge in that case raised the issue. Ultimately, his decision to disqualify the counsel was reversed on appeal.