What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

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Latest post 07-09-2012 10:57 AM by ladybarrinov. 10 replies.
  • 01-04-2011 9:37 PM

    What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    Hey everybody, this is my first time on this site and I am brand new to legal issues so please forgive me if my terminology is a little incorrect. My lawyer has recently sent me a letter informing me that she is withdrawing from the case because I changed strategy, have not cooperated with her and asked her to do things she was not comfortable with. However, there seems to have been misunderstanding between the two of us and now I don't know what to do. First, my change in strategy is due to a change in funds....she wanted to pursue cyberstalking as part of the case and I told her I could not afford a forensic to build that case and did not want to pursue it. Second, she says I did not cooperate because I did not have my counselor contact her to discuss emotional damages but she asked me to do that last Thursday and I left him a voicemail but today is only Tuesday. Third, I asked her not to extend any professional courtesies to the other lawyer because although he is very nice he works for my ex who is not. Did I overstep my bounds as the client? I am trying to understand where she is coming from and I saw that the lawyer can withdraw for things like that.

    My next questions, and more important ones are that she has given me three days to find another lawyer before she files notice to withdrawal and I have no idea what that means...if I don't find one the case gets dismissed? And lastly, I have paid over $10,000 in lawyer fees and cannot afford to pay another retainer upfront and get another lawyer just caught up let alone finish the case so am I just up the creek without a paddle? Any advice/assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • 01-05-2011 9:40 AM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    Your best option is to find another lawyer. 

    It was not wise to instruct your lawyer to not extend professional courtesies to the other lawyer even though you do not like your ex.  Lawyers are ethically bound to be civil to their adversaries.  We typically extend professional courtesies to opposing counsel whenever doing so will not harm our cleint's case.  Remember, what goes around comes around.

  • 01-05-2011 10:35 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,510

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    The practical implications are several:

    1. It may provide an ideal time for your enemy to attack.

    2. Most other attorneys are going to view you as a problematic client and seek major upfont retainers and/or set billing rates high in anticipation of problems or simply avoid you if they have other things to do.

        2.1 Sure , if you have money to burn and attorney needs billable hours --you can get representation--but that is apparently not your case.

    3. To seek to tell your attorney how to practice law is a sure fire way not to get any desired result.

    4. If that attorney has a good track record of winning as to other clients I would not rule out that you approach your attorney with a huge amount of humble pie and revist a new beginning with a cast in stone approach of not meddling --it may or may not work.

        4.1 Nobody else who is any good is likley to want to contend with you in your past patterns

        4.2 The costs of being new counsel up to speed are high.



  • 01-05-2011 12:51 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    " I asked her not to extend any professional courtesies to the other lawyer because although he is very nice he works for my ex who is not.'

    That would be a deal breaker for me. No matter how much the parties hate each other it is important for the lawyers to remain civil & professional. If you asked me to do otherwise I would ask you to find a new lawyer.

    I suggest you call your lawyer and ask for an opportunity to discuss the issues and work something out.

     

  • 01-05-2011 1:37 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    I think your post needs some clarification. What courtesies were being extended; were the coutesies costing you money? What were your legal issues? Why did you think you could win w/o the stalking issue? You can contest her withdrawal with the judge if it would prejudice your case; although, I don't know if you want a hostile atty working for you.

    As a consumer, I think you should be able to ask for strategic changes if affordability is an issue, but you must be prepared for the outcome; you may lose as a result. A decent atty would say ok and send you a letter documenting their advice and concerns and then move forward, if it's possible; if it's not possible in the atty's eyes to win with your strategy, then they may be duty bound to withdraw so as to not waste your money on a no win scenario. Remember, it's YOUR case and you're spending a lot of money.

    Is it wrong for you to ask your doctor for a generic prescription alternative when the brand name drug isn't covered by insurance or is just to costly? Is it wrong to ask your doctor to help you with lifestyle changes instead immediately putting you on high blood pressure medication?

    Maybe she was the wrong atty for you to begin with. I find it interesting that you've only become a problem after you have spent $10,000.00 and your money is starting to run low. Did it really take her 30 hrs (est. at $300.00/hr) to determine that you were a problem?

    Some attys are not consumer friendly. Look for a competent atty, that puts YOU and your issues ahead of their ego and pocket.

    Good Luck

  • 01-05-2011 2:03 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    "Look for a competent atty, that puts YOU and your issues ahead of their ego and pocket. "

    It is pretty outrageous to insinuate that an attorney who wants to treat everyone with courtesy and respect is somehow failing their client. That is FAR from true.

  • 01-05-2011 6:02 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    To clarify:

    The courtesies being extended was only one and it was a time extensions without motions being filed...the other attorney had not submitted answers to our interrogatories when they were due. I met with my lawyer a few days later and asked to file a Motion to Compel to get the answers. She said that according to Washington law, a discovery conference had to happen first and that she had talked to the other lawyer (which would count as that conference) and we should have them by the following week. I said ok and asked that no further deadlines be extended as a professional courtesy and that was the end of the discussion. Now before you attack again, please remember that I am new and I understand the professional courtesies are a way of life for lawyers but wouldn't the appropriate way of handling that situation be to tell me that she was not comfortable with that vice withdrawing? The courtesies were costing me money to the extent that she charged me for every "extra" phone call made to the lawyer about that but I figured that was standard.

    I thought I could win without the stalking issue because it was initially a partition suit to be able to sale a piece of property we jointly owned that he refused to sign paperwork on. Then it turned into a tort action as well because he created a false website and multiple profiles about me on the web. I told her that I didn't care to prove the website because I couldn't afford the forensic computer expert and he had admitted to creating the other profiles already.

    And to Drew I have a question...why is it that I am the problem client now? If I am paying $300/hr shouldn't I be able to question what/why my lawyer is doing certain things and tell her my limitations without her quitting? Like you said, I can't afford to throw money around to get someone else up to speed? I never once questioned her judgement, I listened to everything she said but I did ask questions such as, "have you subpoenaed his cell phone records yet?" and told her my monetary constraints but paid every bill and trust deposit on time. 

    I'm not saying she was wrong to withdraw, I don't understand it but I trust that you all do and now I am just trying to figure out how I proceed...just suck it up and pay more money to another lawyer or what? Thank you all for the advice.

  • 01-05-2011 6:07 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    When a lawyer gets a reputation of being difficult about such commopn courtesies other lawyers are less likely to extend them to her in the future, damaging her ability to represent other clients.

    I wonder what we would here if we asked her why she was withdrawing. Most stories ahve 3 sides - yours, hers and the truth.

  • 01-05-2011 6:17 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    LynnM,

    I appreciate the outlooks and objectiveness but you haven't answered the question that came from that....after 6 months of working with me and $10,000 paid to her why couldn't she say "I am not comfortable with that." I would have said fine, I understand but instead she sends me a letter. Is that normal? I feel like I am the worst client ever and am trying to fix it but I in my heart of hearts do not understand her actions.

  • 01-05-2011 7:20 PM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    LynnM:

    "Look for a competent atty, that puts YOU and your issues ahead of their ego and pocket. "

    It is pretty outrageous to insinuate that an attorney who wants to treat everyone with courtesy and respect is somehow failing their client. That is FAR from true.

    To clarify, I said I do not believe he and the atty are a good match. Some client's need more hand holding than others. Not all attys are good at explaining why they are pursuing a certain strategy and feel frustrated when anyone, including the paying client, questions them. In addition, yes, some attys are very good at "creative billing," just like doctors who send patients for unnecessary lab tests that they can conveniently bill for.

     I see no harm in suggesting that a person find a "...competent atty, that puts YOU and your issues ahead of their ego and pocket." Are you suggesting that a person should should settle for a pushy atty that doesn't explain anything and has a habit of ignoring the client's concerns? I'm not that trusting; I'd be surprised if you were.

  • 07-09-2012 10:57 AM In reply to

    Re: What are my options if a lawyer withdraws

    The best option would have been for the lawyer to review the rules of professional conduct and know that if s/he had been "DEMANDED" by their client to engage in illegal conduct or to violate the Rules or other law that ordinarily they must decline or withdraw from representation. However, to simply suggest a course of conduct to your attorney would not warrant or require that the attorney withdraw. Something else is going on here.  If you cannot talk, express, or make requests about anything with your attorney, good, bad or indifferent, you need another attorney. 

     

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