Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, under the legal theory of "quantum meruit" the attorney is entitled to payment for the amount of work that they did on the case prior to them quitting the case. So, this is one reason why the attorney can seek to collect their fees based on your fee agreement with them and the work they perform.
This also depends on why the attorney withdrew. If it was a permissive withdrawal, it depends on why they withdrew, if it was based on a conflict with the client that could not be resolved, then the attorney may be entitled to fees. If the withdrawal was permissive but was the fault of the attorney, then the courts can deny the fee lien. If the withdrawal was mandatory, they are allowed to seek fees. If the attorney withdraws because the attorney believes that the case has no merit, the attorney has no claim on any eventual recovery and cannot collect any fees. The reason for the rule is that, by definition, the attorney did not expect any recovery on a meritless claim.
to recover fees, an attorney must meet five requirements if withdrawal is based on ethical compulsion. The attorney has the burden of proof
to show: 1) the withdrawal was truly mandatory under the Rules of Professional Responsibility or other statute; (2) counsel’s “overwhelming and primary” motivation was the desire to adhere to these ethical imperatives, as distinct from a private ulterior motive; 3) counsel commenced the action in good faith; 4) subsequent to counsel’s withdrawal, the client obtained recovery; and (5) counsel has demonstrated that counsel’s work contributed in some measurable degree towards the client’s ultimate recovery. See: CA Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3-700
So, you have basis to object to the lien and you should file a motion to remove the lien and prove that the attorney withdrew for no good reason and as such should not receive a lien or recovery of fees.