Can my attorney decline to represent me? 6 Answers as of May 01, 2015

I hired an attorney to represent me 11 days ago as a respondent to a TRO filed by my domestic partner. The hearing is in 9 days. Last night she sent me a letter via email saying her caseload was too much and was "declining to represent" me. I have a signed Fee Agreement and am current on it. I have spent considerable time and effort with her on this case. She completed our dialog yesterday with the commitment to file an Ex Parte motion this morning regarding custody of my minor child. Four hours later her "declining representation" letter arrived via email. I just don't see that there is time to find, educate and get up to speed a new attorney in 9 days. What to do?

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Law Offices of John F. Nicholson
Law Offices of John F. Nicholson | John F. Nicholson
Once retained, and presumably she has filed documents with her name on the caption, she cannot simply walk away. She needs you to willingly sign a Substitution of Attorney or file a Motion to Be Relieved, which will not be heard before your TRO hearing. If she files the Motion exparte (emergency hearing) I do not believe she will prevail and obtain the court's blessing to withdraw from the case as doing so* will prejudice your rights *because you don't have time to get another attorney. Hold your ground and to not sign a Substitution of Attorney if you feel she can do an adequate job for you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/1/2015
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
Under your facts your attorney declining to represent you is to that attorney's peril. This office can be prepared to salvage this blunder should you choose to seek new counsel. Procedures are available to help you, which are much to lengthy for this email. If you fail to move on this NOW, you will be caught in a position you do not want to be in.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/29/2015
James M. Chandler | James M. Chandler
Ask her for a refund of your retainer, and then try to find a new attorney to ask for a continuance to prepare for the hearing.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/29/2015
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
If you both signed the contract, then the attorney is required to honor it until the court either releases him/her from representation or you sign a substitution of attorney. That said, do you really want to work with an attorney who cannot devote the time and attention you need to your case?
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/29/2015
Law Office of Martin A. Kahan | Martin A. Kahan
Have you spoken to her? Has she offered to return your retainer? If you retained her 11 days ago, her caseload must have been known at that time. You will need to explain the situation to the judge at the hearing and request a continuance to retain new counsel. If you are unable to speak to her, call the state bar to complain about the bind the attorney has put in.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/29/2015
    Law Offices of Robert Burns
    Law Offices of Robert Burns | Robert Burns
    I'd present the situation to the attorney in E-mail, that there must be a signed Substitution of Attorney form signed, dated, served, and filed with the Court before representation if the attorney is already your attorney of record. I'd also be looking for another attorney in expectation of getting a continuance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2015
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