How to withdraw from a divorce case without losing your license

How to withdraw from a divorce case?
Well, if you are a seasoned lawyer, you already know all the tricks. If you’re a young one just starting out, all I can say is make sure you get a stipulation to substitute attorney/counsel drawn up and get your client to sign it and notarize it. You can’t just quit and return the file (or keep the file as the case may be). You have to do it by the book. If the client won’t sign the stip, you need to make a motion, or proceed by order to show cause to be relieved as counsel. The judge may or may not grant the motion depending on the situation. But if you can demonstrate that the client is not listening and following your legal advice, or is doing something that is expressly forbidden in the retainer (like contacting the other side without your knowledge and against your advice), or the client is not paying you or something. One caveat: most judges are probably not going to let you off just because you are not being paid. Judges and lay people think divorce lawyers are made of money and that they don’t need to get paid when they work. They think your mortgage gets paid by osmosis. So try not to use the proverbial “my client refuses to pay me” to get off the case. There’s bound to be other legitimate things going on that you can use to make a case that continuing this particular attorney/client relationship would be futile since under the circumstances – whatever they are – the client refuses to cooperate. It’s all about the retainer agreement, really. You have to set up your retainer from the beginning in such a way that in the event you need to get out you can show the judge that the client has breached the retainer by doing something or not doing something in violation of the agreement you have in the retainer.
Even then, the judge may not let you off the case. So brace yourself.
UPDATE: But see this post on Divorce in Connecticut which gives the perspective of the clients. My grand conclusion with that, is both attorneys and clients need to be careful who they are getting into bed with. Wouldn’t you agree?
Brenda Monteau, Jeannie Goldstein
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