Main Reasons an Attorney Would Withdraw From a Case
There are potentially many reasons why an attorney would withdraw from a case. However, there are a few main reasons why a lawyer may withdraw from a case, including the following:
Reason #1 — The client fails to pay attorney’s fees as agreed
After the initial consultation, if you retain an attorney and agree upon an hourly rate, you will usually sign a contract obligating yourself to pay the fees and expenses incurred by your attorney on a specific schedule, such as monthly. Your attorney is entitled to the agreed-upon compensation for his or her services. If your attorney invoices you for fees and expenses incurred and you do not pay according to your contract, your lawyer may ask to withdraw from the case. Attorneys will not usually work for free. If you fall behind on paying the attorney’s fees, you should promptly have a discussion with your attorney and make a plan to catch up with payments.
Reason #2 — The client withholds information, is untruthful, or is acting fraudulently
An attorney cannot properly represent a client who withholds important information that is relevant to the case. An experienced lawyer will usually inform the client that all information the client provides is confidential and that the client should freely disclose all relevant information. The attorney must be careful not to violate the professional rules of conduct or commit legal malpractice.
Some clients fear that their lawyer will not want to represent them if they are completely truthful about the facts of the case. However, your lawyer cannot prepare a proper strategy if you are untruthful and they do not have all the facts. Many times, an attorney will withdraw from the case if their client withholds information or is untruthful.
The attorney is even more likely to withdraw from the case if his or her client is acting fraudulently. The attorney is bound by the professional rules of conduct and cannot help a client present false evidence or otherwise be untruthful to the court. An attorney who knowingly helps a client commit fraud could be disbarred. If a client asks an attorney to violate the law, the attorney is wise to file a motion to withdraw from the case.
Reason #3 — The attorney and client disagree on legal strategies or have conflicting personalities
If an attorney and a client cannot agree on a legal strategy for the case, the attorney will be unlikely to give his or her best effort. Similarly, if the attorney and client have conflicting personalities and frequently disagree or argue, the attorney may have a difficult time presenting the best case possible.
Both attorney and client should be on the same page when it comes to the strategy for the case. The client should also be made aware of the attorney’s opinion of the maximum compensation likely for the case. When it comes to legal strategy, it is equally important that both attorney and client agree on the necessary evidence to be presented to the court to put forth their best case. When client and attorney can’t agree on these important issues, it may be best to part ways. An attorney may file a motion to withdraw in a case where the client is in opposition to such key components of the case.
Reason #4 — The attorney becomes aware of a conflict of interest that would prevent ethical representation of the client
If the attorney realizes that he or she has a conflict of interest, that attorney may need to withdraw from the case. For example, if an attorney is representing a client on an armed robbery charge and later learns that one of the eyewitnesses for the prosecution is his or her close friend or relative, the attorney may have a conflict of interest. In such a situation, the attorney may need to withdraw from representing the client.
Reason #5 — The client terminates the attorney’s representation
Sometimes, a client decides that the attorney he or she is working with is not handling the case well. If a client fires a lawyer, the lawyer will file a motion to withdraw from the case.
Even when the client is responsible for his attorney filing a motion to withdraw, he or she will still need to know what to do when lawyer withdraws from a case. Such a client would be wise to seek the professional legal opinion of another attorney to learn whether to continue pursuing a relationship with the first attorney or to seek a new attorney to represent him or her in litigation. A second opinion from a competent lawyer is often a wise move.