What To Do When Your Lawyer Drops Your Case

What to do when your lawyer drops your case?

Engaging in legal proceedings is a rare occurrence for most individuals. The prospect of hiring a lawyer/ attorney and navigating either civil or criminal court can induce significant stress.

This stress is exacerbated if your attorney decides to discontinue your case.

The idea that an attorney might opt to cease representing a client may not have crossed the minds of many.

Given that you have the right to legal representation, understanding why your lawyer might abandon your case is crucial.

Explore the legal mechanisms behind an attorney’s withdrawal from a case, the ethical responsibilities towards a client, the legal entitlements of a client, and the circumstances that may lead to such a situation.

What To Do When Your Attorney Drops Your Case
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What to do when your lawyer drops your 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:

The client fails to pay attorney’s fees as agreed

After the first meeting, if you hire a lawyer and agree on an hourly rate, you’ll sign a contract to pay fees and expenses on a set schedule.

Your lawyer gets the agreed compensation. If you don’t pay as per the contract, your lawyer may withdraw from the case.

Attorneys don’t work for free. If you’re behind on payments, talk to your lawyer and make a plan to catch up.

The client withholds information, is untruthful, or is acting fraudulently

An attorney can’t represent a client who hides important case details. A good lawyer emphasizes client confidentiality, urging open disclosure. Caution is essential to avoid breaching professional conduct rules or legal malpractice.

Clients may fear truthfulness will deter their lawyer, hindering proper strategy. Lawyers need all facts to prepare adequately. If a client conceals or lies, attorneys may withdraw from the case.

Withdrawal is likelier if a client acts fraudulently. Lawyers, bound by rules, can’t support false evidence or deception. Knowingly aiding fraud risks disbarment. If a client urges illegal actions, the attorney should file to withdraw.

The attorney and client disagree on legal strategies or have conflicting personalities

If attorney and client can’t agree on legal strategy, the attorney won’t give their best effort. Conflicting personalities and frequent disagreements can hinder the attorney’s ability to present the best case.

Both should be on the same page regarding the case strategy. The client needs to know the attorney’s opinion on potential compensation. Agreement on necessary evidence is crucial for a strong case.

When disagreements persist, it might be best to part ways. The attorney may file a motion to withdraw if the client opposes key components of the case.

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.

The client terminates the attorney’s representation

At times, a client may feel dissatisfied with their attorney’s handling of a case, leading to the client terminating the legal relationship.

In such situations, the attorney typically files a motion to withdraw from the case.

Even if the client’s actions prompt the attorney’s withdrawal, it’s crucial for the client to understand how to navigate the situation.

Seeking advice from another attorney can help the client assess whether to maintain ties with the original attorney or to find new legal representation for the ongoing litigation.

Obtaining a second opinion from a qualified lawyer is often a prudent decision in such circumstances.

Can a Lawyer Drop a Client in the Middle of a Case?

What to do when your lawyer drops your case?

If a lawyer files a motion to withdraw in the middle of a case, he or she will need the judge’s permission for his motion to be granted.

Once a case management schedule has been agreed upon and ordered by the judge, it is much more difficult for an attorney to withdraw from a case.

When a case is well underway or is only a few weeks away from a trial, it is rare for the court to allow an attorney to withdraw.

Doing so will likely cause unnecessary delays and prejudice the client or the opposing party.

Under certain circumstances, the court will permit a lawyer to withdraw in the middle of a case; however, the attorney will need to produce necessary evidence for why his motion to withdraw should be granted.

How Does an Attorney Withdraw From a Case?

Can an attorney withdraw from a case? Yes, they can in certain situations.

  1. The attorney needs a valid reason to withdraw.
  2. Notify the client and explain the intent to withdraw.
  3. File a motion to withdraw with the court.

The court may grant the motion without a hearing or schedule one.

  1. In a hearing, the attorney presents evidence.
  2. The client can oppose and explain why withdrawal shouldn’t be allowed.

The court decides whether the attorney can withdraw.

For ongoing cases heading to trial soon:

Can a lawyer withdraw from case management and pretrial court appearances?

If withdrawal delays proceedings or harms parties, the court may deny the motion.

What To Do If Your Attorney Files a Motion To Withdraw?

It doesn’t happen every day, but you might wonder, “What happens if an attorney withdraws from a case?” First, decide whether you really want to continue working with an attorney who wants to withdraw from your case. Of course, it depends on the lawyer’s reasons for withdrawing.

Read more: How to start a law firm without being a lawyer?

Consider your options

It can be stressful and upsetting if your attorney wants to withdraw from your case. However, you should take this time to pause and consider what has happened and how you want to respond. Consider the following questions when deciding what to do when a lawyer withdraws from a case:

  • Why does the lawyer want to withdraw from your case?

  • If the lawyer wants to withdraw because of something you have done or failed to do, can you resolve the problem?

  • If the lawyer wants to withdraw because of a conflict of interest in your case, is the conflict a minor one that you are comfortable with, and could you agree to waive your objection to the conflict?

  • Do you really want to continue working with this attorney?

Determine your next steps

If you decide that you want to continue working with the attorney even though the attorney has asked to withdraw from your case, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Ask to meet with the attorney to discuss the reasons for withdrawing from your case.
  2. If the reason is something that you can resolve, such as non-payment of fees, explain how you intend to resolve the problem.
  3. If the reason for withdrawal is due to a conflict of interest and you are willing to waive any objection to the conflict, ask the attorney to allow you to sign a written waiver if he or she is willing to continue representing you. 
  4. If your attorney will not agree to continue representing you and you believe the withdrawal is unfair or would harm your case, you should file an opposition to the motion to withdraw with the court.
  5. If the court sets the motion to withdraw for a hearing, appear in court and explain to the judge why you believe the attorney should not be permitted to withdraw from your case. 

Conclusion

What to do when your lawyer drops your case? If your lawyer drops your case, weigh your options and respond thoughtfully. Clients often prefer not to continue with an attorney who no longer wishes to represent them.

Address any issues with your lawyer, whether related to your actions or conflicts of interest.

Despite the stress, stay calm and assess your best interests in light of the situation. If you wish to continue with your attorney, follow the tips mentioned to address their reasons for withdrawal.