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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33752
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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In Maryland, a litigator whom I hired for an estate matter

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In Maryland, a litigator whom I hired for an estate matter told me a month ago that he would submit a subpoena and draft an interrogatory for my case. I learned today that he did not do so. After my reaction requesting status below, he asked to withdraw from the case. Is he wrong to do this? (My reaction which prompted his withdrawal was "You mean you haven't started yet? What about subpoena for the current trust accounting, which we talked about a month ago on the April 19 conference call? Or the depositions/interrogatories for the trustee? Anything done on those?")

JD 1992 : Hello and thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am an expert here and I look forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
JD 1992 : Your question "is he wrong to do this" sounds like a rhetorical one. Are you asking if he is being unethical?
Customer: Hello, wow I didn't expect a live chat. Great. The question is partly one of ethics, as in, is it "okay" for a lawyer to ditch me like this. But I guess the larger issue is, what the heck can I do? Lawyers are loathe to take on a case already in progress, so I'm kind of "screwed" if you will. Should I hit the pavement hoping some attorney will deign to pick up a "hard luck" case like I am now, or should I press this guy to honor his commitments and do his job?
JD 1992 : It would be better to discuss this in person and see if you can resolve whatever the issue is. Almost ever lawyer has done this periodically in their career when they have gotten "cross ways" with a client. Sometimes one or the other was having a bad day, sometimes a tone was misinterpreted, etc.
JD 1992 : Unless you just don't like the attorney then there is no reason to switch unless it is absolutely necessary. You are correct in that most attorneys don't like to jump into a case that has already been started and, in addition, the lawyer often charges extra to take on a case that has been started because, invariably, they are more trouble.
JD 1992 : It is not against the ethical rules for an attorney to "fire" a client except in very limited circumstances.
Customer: Okay, thanks a lot for your advice. I feel like I've really been betrayed by this. It seems like I should be the boss and he should be the servant, for the huge money I have to pay. But, I guess I have no choice but to kiss his feet if I want to pursue the matter. It feels so WRONG to have to kiss up to somebody who should be obeying me. But thank you very much for your advice.
JD 1992 : I understand your feelings but it really doesn't work that way in most cases. One reason is that a lawyer has to be able to "flex" on if, how, and when things are done because of changing facts, a busy schedule, etc.
JD 1992 : And, unfortunately, we have all been guilty of failing to explain to our clients that time in the legal system works different than anywhere else. What likely happened is that the note to do the subpoena ans interrogatories is somewhere in the list of things to be done and he just hasn't reached them yet.
Customer: Okay. Thanks for the perspective. One last thing, to be clear, you said the lawyer CAN abandon the client with no ethical problem?
JD 1992 : Lawyers are absolutely at the mercy of their schedules and the judges. It is not excusing what he did and when he told you he was going to do them he should have explained that it may take a while.
JD 1992 : Yes, generally the lawyer can withdraw from a case with no ethical problems. If it would work to put you at an insurmountable disadvantage then it would be unethical. For instance, if he decided to withdraw the day before you were supposed to pick a jury then it would be an issue.
Customer: Okay, thanks. I'm clicking out now. Great help. Have a great day!
JD 1992 : Best wishes to you! I hope it works out well. If you think about it please come back and let me know what happens. I like to keep track of the customers as much as possible.
Customer: You bet. Bye.
JD 1992 : Also, please don't forget to issue a Positive Rating so I get credit for my work.
Dwayne B. and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you very much for the Positive Rating. Please come back and visit us if you have any new questions and feel free to ask for me by placing “FOR JD 1992” in the subject line and I will pick up as soon as I see it.