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socrateaser
socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 38879
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Can attorney withdraw from a case because he received discovery

Resolved Question:

Can attorney withdraw from a case because he received discovery documents from a client with the small delay (that attorney caused)?

Attorney is on monthly retainer for a very long time. When case developed and start taking more time that he liked, he decided to withdraw, stating delays in delivering discovery information to him constitute lack of cooperation in discovery (this and ethical issue are the only condition he can withdraw from the agreement).

Can he do this? Is this legal and ethical? To clarify, he also put impossible deadline to deliver information to him and misinformed me on a way to create discovery information, so it took very long time. Deadline was not dictated by other side's motion to compel discovery nor by other judge's order.

What are my remedies? - Should I start search for new attorney or should I hire attorney to get this person back to work as he promised? Company paid him lots of money and it pains that he is departing at the moment when his skills and time is required.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
An attorney who is listed as "of record" in the court file cannot withdraw without the court's permission, or the client's written consent on a form MC-050. Many attorneys try to get their clients to sign an MC-050 by tricking them into believing that the client has no choice.

The client can simply state that he/she will not sign, and if the attorney wants to withdraw, he/she will have to file a motion with the court, that the client can vigorously oppose. If the case is sufficiently close to trial, and the client has paid the attorney timely and in full, up to the date of the motion hearing, the court is very likely to deny the attorney's withdrawal motion.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He did something like that. He send me a message stating that he is going to withdraw and stated a date when he will submit a motion. I responded with the statement that his request is not approved.

His response was a list of what he believes were facts of non-cooperation of discovery - which were my requests to him for information and clarification, that he never objected in a first place.

In your opinion, should company hire attorney to put this case properly for the judge to make sure that his withdrawal motion is denied or putting facts together for the judge would be sufficient?



Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
It would be silly to hire a lawyer to resist your current lawyer's withdrawal motion. You may as well simply hire a new lawyer and not waste further efforts on the current attorney.

Most attorney withdrawal motions are the result of the client's failure to pay. It's rare that an attorney will withdraw due to a claim that the client is not cooperating. Given your additional facts, you may want to consider hiring a new lawyer, rather than resisting the attorney's withdrawal.

If you feel that you would be better served with your current attorney, then you can make your objections without a lawyer to assist you. The judge must handle these types of hearings in a more relaxed fashion, due to the fact that the client is not expected to know how to respond to the motion.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Can I request attorney to present to me his motion to withdraw before he submits it?

How many days of notice are required and can I request attorney to withdraw on further date that he proposes, like end of month instead of beginning of the month?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
The motion must be served on you at least 16 court days before the hearing (or a shorter period if the court permits). Five additional calendar days are added, if the motion is served on you by regular mail. Typically, this means that the hearing will be nearly 30 days after you are served. So, it won't be a surprise.

You can request whatever you want at the hearing -- however, the judge will almost certainly either permit the attorney to withdraw immediately or not at all. The court won't permit a withdrawal at some future date.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
To clarify, if attorney proposes to submit motion to withdraw on September 6th, can I request him to do this on September 29th instead?

Per your message, does this also means that attorney has to serve motion to me first before putting it in front of the judge?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
To clarify, if attorney proposes to submit motion to withdraw on September 6th, can I request him to do this on September 29th instead?

A: The judge will generally rule on a withdrawal motion on the date of the hearing. Even if the judge postpones the ruling, the judge will not likely allow you to propose a specific withdrawal date, because that reduces your incentive to find substitute legal representation. So, while you can request whatever date you want -- I very much doubt that the judge will consider your request. The judge will either grant the attorney's withdrawal request, effective immediately, or deny it -- one or the other.

Per your message, does this also means that attorney has to serve motion to me first before putting it in front of the judge?

A: Absolutely, yes.

Hope this helps.
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