When Can a Lawyer Withdraw In The Middle Of a Case? A Detailed Review

In the midst of a client’s case, if an attorney opts to step back, such withdrawal is typically classified as either “mandatory” or “voluntary.”

This piece will delineate the distinctions between these two procedures, providing illustrative examples for each.

It is essential to note that irrespective of the withdrawal type, the attorney typically must seek and secure the court’s approval before concluding representation for any of the parties involved in an ongoing civil lawsuit.

Can a lawyer withdraw from a case
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An Attorney’s Mandatory Withdrawal

  • Should the situation demand the attorney’s withdrawal from representation, it becomes obligatory. Instances necessitating an attorney’s mandatory withdrawal from a case encompass:
    1. The attorney lacks the competence to sustain the representation.
    2. The attorney emerges as a pivotal witness regarding a disputed matter in the case.
    3. The attorney uncovers that the client is exploiting their services to further a criminal enterprise.
    4. The client insists on pursuing a frivolous position in the case.
    5. The attorney faces a conflict of interest or is unable to persist in representation without violating the rules of professional conduct.
    6. The client terminates the attorney’s services.

An Attorney’s Voluntary Withdrawal

If circumstances permit, the attorney can voluntarily end representation without being obligated to do so.

The situations in which an attorney may choose to withdraw from a case include:

  1. The client is declining to remunerate the attorney for their services, contravening the terms of their fee agreement.
  2. The client is unwilling to heed the attorney’s counsel.
  3. The client is involved in fraudulent activities.
  4. A breakdown in the attorney-client relationship has occurred, hindering the attorney’s effective representation of the client in the case.

Even in cases where withdrawal is required, an attorney needs court approval before ending representation. If granted, the client usually receives sufficient time to secure new legal counsel.

Read more: Do you need a lawyer for lemon law?

Getting the Court’s Permission to Withdraw

An attorney must obtain court permission before withdrawing from a case, even when withdrawal is mandatory.

The court may not grant immediate withdrawal if there is a dispute over the reasons or if it could harm the client’s case.

If there is a dispute, the court may conduct a hearing before deciding on the withdrawal.

After the court permits withdrawal, it gives the client time to seek new legal representation.

After court approval, the attorney must return all client property, including funds and fees.

They must cooperate with the new counsel and hand over the complete client file.

Even after withdrawal, the attorney must maintain client confidentiality. Violating these rules can lead to disciplinary action, including disbarment.