Can an attorney withdraw his service? 40 Answers as of June 02, 2013

I hired an attorney to represent my son in two cases. He was being held in federal lock up for transportation of illegal aliens, long story short, he got caught up in a Mexican Mafia case. He cooperated and helped prosecute 18 members. His life is in jeopardy. His attorney refused to help in his safety and or his location. I contacted the US Marshal and wrote to the federal judge, seeking help to keep my son safe. The attorney is mad, because I sought help and sent emails stating the facts. The attorney has been paid and now threatens to withdraw in the state matter. I need help, can he do this?

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Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
An attorney can ask the court to permit him to withdraw from a case, however the judge may or may not permit him to withdraw. You will have a chance to speak to his request before the court.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 11/14/2011
The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
You should examine what the wording of the retainer agreement states between you and your son's attorney in this matter. If the retainer agreement only covers the federal case, then you have not necessarily retained him on the state matters. Additionally, most retainer agreements will also state that the attorney has the right to withdrawal from representation. That said, if this case has already begun in state court, he will need to get the judge's approval to have him removed as attorney in the case.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/14/2011
Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C.
Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C. | Kenneth Wincorn
If he has been paid in full for a trial he should refund what ever portion of the money has not been earned or continue to represent him. The court does not have to let him withdraw if he has been paid.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 11/14/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
Yes, the attorney can withdraw. What was done was against advice or without advice of counsel and sounds like was detrimental to the defense of the case. Either way, it affected the attorney client relationship in a negative way, at least from the point of view of the attorney. You cannot force the attorney to continue representation. I hope that this was helpful.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/14/2011
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
Usually retained attorneys can withdraw for any reason deemed to be "good cause." He would have to make a motion infront of the judge citing the reasoning and it would be up to the judge to decide.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. He can if the judge will let him.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    It sounds like what you are asking the lawyer to do "help in his safety and or his location" is beyond the scope of the retainer. In other words, you may have only retained counsel to defend him in court. If that defense resulted in a client turning State's evidence and now the client is being protected and in the custody of the US Marshals, whatever happens subsequent is not the lawyer's responsibility. A lawyer has no say on where the Marshals place someone in witness protection. Indeed, no lawyer can ever be retained to keep his client safe. All we do as attorneys is represent persons against the charges.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    A lawyer can withdraw from representing your son with the permission of the court if there is a court proceeding pending. If there is no proceeding he can simply quit but must return any unearned part of the retainer you gave him.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    If his criminal matter has been concluded and the attorney accomplished what he was retained to do, he does not have to accept a new retainer on a separate case or different work requirements. It sounds like your son's criminal case has been concluded. If his criminal case is still open, his attorney cannot just withdraw without specific, allowable reasons.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    An attorney can only withdraw for good cause shown, and must have permission from the court. Whether your actions constitute good cause would have to be determined by the court, then a decision made by the judge as to whether or not the attorney may withdraw.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    The attorney should not withdraw if he has been paid in full and there are no conflicts.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Yes, he can do this.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    An attorney can seek permission from the court to withdraw as counsel in a case. Unless you consent, there would be a court hearing and the judge would have to decide if withdrawal is appropriate. From a practical standpoint, do you want an attorney who does not want to work on the case.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton | Cindy Barton
    An attorney must ask the court for permission to withdraw if there are issues pending. If there is a dispute between the attorney and the client the court will usually allow the attorney to withdraw. However, if he has not done the work you paid him for he will usually have to refund what money he has not expended. Your son would probably qualify for court appointed representation. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC | Louis Leibowitz
    The lawyer may need to get permission from the judge to withdraw from the case. In any event, if he withdraws he may need to return some of your money.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Certainly, a lawyer can file a motion to withdraw from a case whenever he wishes. However, he will need some good grounds for his request, and if refused, will have to remain on the case. Why in the world would you want him to stay on your son's case NOW?????? This guy is not going to give his best, I fear, after what has happened. Look for another lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Depending on what stage the case is at, he may be able to withdraw. It is not a good idea to bypass your lawyer and speak directly to the US Marshal or Judge. I don't know any attorney who would appreciate that. Your attorney is supposed to be part of your team, and you should consult him/her about everything regarding the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If your son's attorney finds himself in a conflcit situation, or if his ability to fairly and adequately represent his client is compromised, or if there is an appearance or accusation of an impripriety on his behalf, he may be forced to withdraw from representation. Please note that an attorney may have surprisingly little influence on the protection of their client who is in custody.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    I am not getting the facts right or have enough to anwer the question. Did the attorney not want his client in witness protection because it would interfere with him being able to see him to represent him. There is something that I am not getting.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    The attorney should refund your money and allow you to hire another lawyer. Your actual rights would be governed by the fee agreement but the Bar Association may be able to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Your attorney is bound by the retainer agreement you signed with him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    In criminal cases, generally, the attorney must get the consent of the court/judge, before he/she can withdraw. However, this is generally not too difficult, especially if the attorney feels he cannot effectively represent the client. I am somewhat concerned about your actions, in that, while you may believe them to be innocent, you may have compromised the ability of the attorney to work with and represent your son. I do not know the facts of the case and your information does not give me enough info to advise further than what I have done. The other thought that comes to mind is, exactly what type of case was the attorney hired to do? Sounds like your son's issues may have changed and then the question comes, "Does the attorney have the knowledge and skill to represent your son. Was the attorney hired to handle state cases? If so, the federal government involved, the representation goes from state court to federal court. Perhaps the attorney is not licensed to practice in federal court.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    An attorney can always withdraw from a case just as you can always "fire" an attorney from your case. However, s/he has an obligation to not disadvantage the client and take whatever steps are necessary on the client's behalf before leaving the case. An attorney is merely a representative in court - I am unclear as to how an attorney could protect your son in such a situation as you describe. If your son cooperated then it is the job of the prosecutor's office to protect him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    He can withdraw, but will probably have to give you his money back.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Yes an attorney can withdraw for many reasons, governed by rules of professional conduct. One of the most important rules is that withdrawal can not do harm to client. However if a permitted reason exists then you should be entitled to a breakdown of attorney time and possibly a refund if retainer was greater than time worked.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    An attorney of record cannot withdraw from the case without being granted permission by the judge.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Once an attorney has appeared in a case, he or she can only withdraw with the court's permission. Judges vary widely in when they will let attorneys withdraw. If the attorney has not earned the fees that he has been paid, he will probably have to refund them if the court lets him withdraw. Do you want an attorney working on the case who doesn't want to be there? That sounds like a bad outcome for everyone.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    He can but it depends on his reasons why and what his retainer agreement states. There may be facts that you have made public that can put your son's case, and safety, at jeopardy. An attorney can never guarantee a prisoner's safety as that is up the U.S. Marshall and facilities where the defendant is housed. If you are not happy with the attorney, look for someone else but in the future do not do things yourself as they can prejudice the case.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of David Baum
    Law Office of David Baum | David M. Baum
    It is possible for the attorney to withdraw from the case. The attorney will usually need the Judge's approval before he can withdraw, especially if you haven't retained another attorney to replace him. As to fees, depending on the retainer agreement, the attorney may have to return any unused portion of the fees he has been paid up to the point he is relieved as counsel. The new attorney you hire can assist you with recouping unused fees from the former attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Swann-Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC
    Swann-Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC | Elizabeth Swann
    Basically, yes. An attorney can withdraw just like you can fire an attorney for any reason and get new counsel. You can, however, ask for any money he has not used in your son's representation.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Yes but he needs to refund unused portion of fee. If he refuses report him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    You never should have communicated with the judge or us attorney. You should have tried to talk to the jail. Our write letters to the jail. Statements made by the defendants mother are pretty persuasive, the prosecutor is trying to help your son, they are trying to put him away for rest of his life. The judge is not trying to help him either, his job is to make sure that the prosecutor follows the rules while he is putting your son away. The attorney can withdraw if the judge let's him. You may be entitled to get some of your money back.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should not have sent any emails or written any letter without the approval of the attorneys handling the cases. You are not a lawyer and have no idea what the consequences of that could be. It is not appropriate to contact the judge handling a case and he will not respond to you in any event. If the lawyer has done the work and earned the fee you paid him he is entitled to keep the earned portion and should return any unearned portion. He can ask the court to be relieved for any number of reasons and that is up to the judge. You have not given me enough of the specifics on why he would want to withdraw, but you should contact him and try to work with him to handle the case in an appropriate manner.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    The attorney has a right to withdraw. Usually the attorney must establish cause in order for the Judge to grant the motion to withdraw. Based upon the information you provided, I don't know if the attorney has cause. Usually the Judge will find the necessary cause unless the withdrawal would prejudice the rights of your son. At this point, I don't know if the attorney withdrawing would prejudice your son's rights in the case.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Meshbesher & Spence
    Meshbesher & Spence | Daniel Guerrero
    An attorney cannot withdraw from representation without a very good reason, i.e., he hasn't been paid, client won't cooperate or has lost touch with lawyer, physical threats or complete inability to get along. The reason you describe does not provide such reason in my opinion.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    In a criminal case, an attorney must file a Motion and receive permission of the court to withdraw from further representation.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/11/2011
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