Yes. As a client of any attorney, you may fire the attorney at any time regardless of whether you have a contract with the client. However, your right to terminate the relationship may have some financial consequences that should be discussed with any new attorney you want to retain.
If you had a contingency fee agreement with your prior attorney, the fired attorney loses his or her right to the contingency fee under the agreement. However, the attorney has a legal right to what is commonly referred to as a charging lien. This lien may or may not be exercised by the terminated attorney should you obtain any recovery from your case by your new attorney. The charging lien is for any costs that the attorney advanced on your behalf as well as any actual time the attorney worked on your case. I have provided a brief example of a potential situation below.
Assume you retained an attorney for a personal injury case with a contingency fee agreement of 35%. Assume the attorney filed a lawsuit on your behalf and took two depositions that took two hours each. Assume you became unhappy with your attorney, terminated her and retained a new attorney under a similar fee agreement. Assume that your new attorney settled your case for $50,000 under a similar 35% contingency fee agreement.
Your new attorney would receive $17,500 in fees. The attorney you terminated would not receive a contingency fee in the same amount as your former attorney did not recover the $50,000 for you. However, your former attorney has the right to recover her costs from the $50,000 you received as well as payment on what is commonly referred to as a quantum meriut basis. This means she is entitled to receive payment for the time she actually spent working on your case.
If she spent 5 hours working on it and the customary hourly fee amount is $250/per hour, then she would be entitled to $1,250 from your $50,000 recovery. She would have to prove the amount of time and that the hourly fee is reasonable, but the law entitles her to recover from your recovery should she demonstrate it.
To be clear, a client always has the right to terminate an attorney. This right is not without some potential financial consequence. Thus, if you decide to terminate your attorney and hire a new attorney, it is wise to ask your new attorney to address any potential claims your former attorney may make on any potential recovery at the outset- well before you actually recover on your claims. Often times your former attorney will waive their lien on fees (but hardly ever on any costs) if addressed early following the termination.