A Good Lawyer-Client Relationship Is Essential
When it comes to hiring dedicated legal help, both the lawyer and the client need to have an honest conversation that lays out what relationship expectations need to be had throughout the whole course of the case. However, this does not always happen and in some other cases, the relationship turns negative. If this was to happen in other professions, one can fire the other, so can a lawyer drop you as a client?
Yes, a lawyer can drop you as a client, as governed by Rule 1.16 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule provides that a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client who is conducting illegal activity, using the lawyer to perpetuate criminal activity, fraud, or some other things.
So, now that you have an idea of some of the reasons that a lawyer can drop you as a client, let’s examine these reasons in greater detail below. Before that, however, let’s discuss how this happens, how to prevent it from happening, and more!
How Does That Happen?
It is essential that a lawyer and their client are on the same page from the very beginning. The initial consultation is key in ensuring that both parties understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from each other.
During the consultation, the lawyer will ask the client several questions in order to get a better understanding of their legal problem. The answers to these questions will help the lawyer determine whether or not they can take on the case. It is important that the client is honest with their answers and provides as much detail as possible.
The lawyer will also explain their fees and how they typically work with clients. This is an important conversation to have early on, as it will help avoid any misunderstandings down the road.
At the end of the consultation, both the lawyer and the client should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. If there are any questions or concerns, they should be addressed before moving forward. By starting off on the same page, the lawyer and client can build a strong working relationship that will serve them well throughout the legal process.
What If Things Don’t Work Between Them?
No relationship is perfect, and the same goes for lawyer-client relationships. While most attorneys strive to maintain a positive and professional rapport with their clients, there are always going to be some bad apples. So, can there be a bad lawyer and client relationships?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Just like in any other type of relationship, there can be communication breakdowns, misaligned goals and expectations, and general interpersonal conflicts that can sour the lawyer-client relationship.
Of course, not every bad relationship is irreparable. With open communication and a mutual commitment to resolving any issues, many lawyer-client relationships can be salvaged. However, in some cases, it may be best for both parties to move on.
Withdrawal From Representation
Withdrawal from representation, also known as termination of representation, is the legal term for when an attorney and client end their relationship. The attorney may do this for many reasons. However, most often it is because the client has not been paying the attorney’s fees. While withdrawal from representation is not illegal, there are some ethical considerations that attorneys must take into account before taking this step.
The first thing an attorney must consider is whether or not they have a written agreement with the client that delineates the terms of the representation. If such an agreement exists, the attorney must review it carefully to see if withdrawing from representation would violate any provisions in the agreement. If no such agreement exists, the attorney must still consider any ethical obligations they have to the client, such as the duty of loyalty or confidentiality.
Withdrawing from representation can have serious consequences for the client, so attorneys must be sure that they are taking this step for the right reasons. If an attorney withdraws from representation without a good reason, the client may be able to file a complaint with the state bar association. In some cases, an attorney who withdraws from representation without a good reason may even be subject to disciplinary action.
What Are the Reasons For This?
Withdrawal from representation is governed by Rule 1.16 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule provides that a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if:
- The client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer’s services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent;
- The client has used the lawyer’s services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;
- The client insists on taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement;
- The client fails to substantially fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services, such as paying for those services;
- The representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer;
- The client has repeatedly used the lawyer’s services to engage in serious misconduct despite the lawyer’s warnings; or
- The lawyer reasonably believes that continuation of the representation will result in physical, emotional, or mental harm to the lawyer.
If you are an attorney who is considering withdrawing from representation, it is important to consult with another attorney to ensure that you are taking the proper steps and avoid any potential legal or ethical problems.
What Are The Types?
There are many different types of withdrawal from representation, each with its own specific set of requirements and consequences. The most common type of withdrawal is called “voluntary withdrawal.” This occurs when an attorney simply stops representing a client, without the consent of the court or the client. In most cases, an attorney can only withdraw voluntarily if he or she has a good reason for doing so, such as a conflict of interest or a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. If an attorney withdraws without a good reason, he or she may be subject to disciplinary action by the state bar association.
Another type of withdrawal is called “involuntary withdrawal.” This occurs when an attorney is ordered by the court to stop representing a client, usually because the attorney has done something wrong, such as missing a deadline or filing the wrong paperwork. Involuntary withdrawal can also occur if an attorney is disbarred or suspended from practicing law. If an attorney is involuntarily withdrawn from a case, he or she may not be able to get back in, even if the client wants him or her to continue representing them.
Finally, there is “constructive withdrawal.” This happens when an attorney effectively withdraws from a case by doing something that makes it impossible for him or her to continue representing the client, such as moving out of state or going on extended leave. While an attorney may not technically be withdrawn from the case, the court will often appoint new counsel to take over, and the original attorney will likely be barred from further involvement.
How Is Damage To The Case Managed?
When a lawyer withdraws from representing a client, the lawyer must take reasonable steps to avoid prejudice against the client. These steps may include giving the client sufficient time to find another lawyer, turning over all documents and files relating to the representation, and cooperating with counsel for the client in making any transition in representation smooth. In addition, if the withdrawal will result in substantial financial hardship for the client, the lawyer must take reasonable steps to mitigate those hardships, such as by giving the client a payment plan or seeking a court order for payment of fees.
The decision to withdraw from representation is a difficult one, and should not be made lightly. Lawyers should consult with colleagues and supervisors, and review their ethical obligations, before making a final decision. Withdrawal can have significant consequences for both the lawyer and the client. So, it is important to be sure that it is the right course of action before proceeding.