GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – You hire an attorney to represent you. You know that if you are unhappy you can always fire them and hire another attorney, but did you know that your attorney can fire you, as a client, and withdraw from the case even if it is in the middle of the case? Attorneys have the right to voluntarily withdraw from your case is certain circumstances.
Voluntary withdrawal from an ongoing legal case most commonly occurs because the client is refusing to pay the attorney for his or her services in violation of their retainer agreement. When a client signs a retainer or fee agreement with an attorney they are promising to fulfill the payment requirements as indicated. For example, if your retainer states that your bill must be paid in full every month and you only send a small portion so that your balance keeps increasing, your attorney will probably talk to you about the need to pay your bill. If you refuse to, are unable to or continue to pay a portion they may eventually file a stipulation to withdraw from your case. At times it is possible to speak honestly to your attorney and arrange to have your fees taken out of any settlement you will be getting. However, you have to remember that attorney firms are businesses and must have their clients pay regularly in order to pay their own bills and staff so they cannot be expected to agree to wait six months to a year or more in order to get paid.
Refusing to follow your attorney’s advice can lead to him or her withdrawing from your case. If you are given advice to allow your spouse to exercise their right to visitation with the kids and you continually refuse to allow them visitation your attorney may quit in frustration which leads to the third reason your attorney may quit. You have hired an expert in family law, in negotiations and in getting a fair settlement for you. Undermining their work by not following their advice and instructions will harm your attorney’s chances to do their job well. A breakdown in the attorney-client relationship that prevents the attorney from effectively do their job can result in your being left to hire a new attorney. No one wants to appear foolish or incompetent.
If an attorney finds that their client has engaged in fraudulent or illegal conduct it is a basis for withdrawal from the case.
Every attorney who files a stipulation to withdraw from a case must ask the permission of the court to do so. Usually, a court is sympathetic to an attorney who is faced with circumstances that lead to withdrawal and will permit withdrawal. The client is then given a reasonable period to find new representation and get them up to speed. However, it may not be granted if the withdrawal would prejudice the client’s ability to litigate the case. For example, if your case is nearly finished and having to get a new attorney would delay your case unnecessarily.
Should you find yourself in this situation you do have the right to pick up your file or have your file given directly to your new attorney. You will be charged a fee to copy the file because your previous attorney will keep a copy of the contents of your file that he or she worked on. You also have the right to any monies that were paid in advance and placed into an iolta, or trust, account to be used for future fees and costs. The initial retainer, however, is normally non-refundable and will not be returned. Read your retainer agreement as it should clearly stipulate whether the initial retainer is non-refundable or not.