Can my attorney withdraw from my case?

When you hire an attorney in California, you and your lawyer make an agreement to cooperate on your case and share necessary information. Your attorney should also inform you about the legal process, what is expected of you, what you should expect from him or her and your financial obligations. When your attorney is thorough and ethical, your chances are excellent that you will not be a victim of legal malpractice. However, you may wonder what can happen if your attorney decides to resign from your case.

Withdrawing from a case is not as simple as saying, “I quit,” as the American Bar Association explains. Your attorney has contractual obligations to you. However, your attorney also has the discretion to decide if your best interests will no longer be served with him or her on your case, as well as to protect his or her own professional interests if an unexpected complication turns up.

For example, your attorney may realize there were elements of a case he or she was previously unaware of, which create a conflict of interest or disqualify you for representation. Your attorney may be unhappy about an unfulfilled payment arrangement or believe details about the case were concealed. It is also possible your attorney decides he or she is no longer a good fit. In any case, your attorney should first give you a reasonable warning about his or her concerns, as well as file a motion to withdraw. Attorneys are also obligated to keep certain elements of a case confidential after withdrawing.

If your attorney fails to abide by these considerations when withdrawing from your case, this may qualify as legal malpractice. This information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.