The how-tos of attorney withdrawal
One of the most effective legal malpractice claim prevention techniques is knowing when and how to end an attorney-client relationship that is on a one-way path to trouble. Every attorney recognizes that sometimes situations arise in which the safest and best course is to terminate the attorney-client relationship. Part I (Oct. 2) was the "when." Here is the "how."
While the legal duties to clients do not differ, the practical steps for withdrawal do differ between litigation matters and non-litigation matters. For litigation matters, the court must approve of the withdrawal. Yet, the first step for withdrawal for both litigation and non-litigation matters is the same—ask for the client's consent.
Typically, by the time that an attorney is seeking to withdraw, communications between the attorney and the client will have deteriorated. As a result, the request for the client's consent is typically in writing. If not, then the request for the client's consent should be confirmed in writing. The best course is to identify (i) the specific representation at issue, (ii) the reasons for seeking to terminate the representation, and (iii) notice that upon withdrawal the attorney will no longer represent the client.
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