When You May Withdraw Services

You may withdraw your services if there has been a serious loss of confidence between you and your client according to Chapter 3, rule 3.7-2 of the Professional Code of Conduct. This often arises where the client deceives you, refuses to provide you with adequate instructions, or refuses to accept and act upon your advice on a significant point.

A residual right to withdrawal exists in other circumstances, provided the withdrawal is not unfair to the client, or done for an improper purpose. Rule 3.7 provides that unfairness to the client depends on the circumstances of the case, but normally includes consideration of whether the withdrawal would:

  • occur at a stage of the proceeding that would require the client to retain another lawyer to perform some or all of the same work again;
  • leave the client insufficient time to retain a new lawyer; and
  • leave the replacement lawyer insufficient time to prepare and represent the client.

Similarly, determining what constitutes impropriety depends on the circumstances of each case, but includes withdrawal in order to delay court proceedings or to assist the client in effecting an improper purpose. (See Rule 3.7)

Community Discussion

Your comments cannot be edited after posting.

This section can be misunderstood.  You may have a legal and ethical right to withdraw if the withdrawal is neither unfair to the client nor done for an improper putpose, but you will not necessarily have the contractual right to do so - or rather, your payment is dependent on your completing everything that you were retained to do (this is the "entire agreement" aspect of lawyers' contracts)  unless your contract is worded with great precision, and so you have to refund everything that you have been paid to date.  I cannot summarize the law in detail here but there are dozens on cases on the toipic although I find most lawyers are quitre unaware of it.