I have a wronful death case scheduled for trial. The defense is not entertaining a settlement. This is a contingency based case where all fees are contingent on a win or settlement. Mg attorney does not wish to go to trial and agreed to not seek reimbursment for fees ect if I agree to drop the case. He says I need to immediatly release him or else face financil burden. He also states if I wish to continue I have to deposit money to proceed. Can he do this?
1 Answer from Attorneys
You are entitled to fire your attorney at any time, especially where there is a disagreement about strategy and philosophy between you. Similarly, your attorney can withdraw from your case if he feels you are not accepting his advice and counsel or that you are attempting to do something illegal or otherwise ill-advised.
It is very unusual to see a lawyer withdraw just because he does not want to go to trial and the defense refuses to settle. If that truly is the case here, you should seek out counsel who is not afraid to hold the defendants' feet to the fire and either force the settlement or pursue the trial. It sounds like you have been offered the opportunity to end the relationship with your attorney without incurring any costs or having a lien on your eventual recovery. That is a pretty big thing and you probably should take him up on that and move on to a new attorney who will properly represent you in this matter. Of course, any other attorney is going to want to know exactly why the first lawyer is dropping you, and if it is because you are too uncooperative, unreasonable in your expectations of settlement value, or just really hard to work for, you might have trouble replacing him with new counsel. If he has determined that you simply do not have a viable case and the claim has no value, that will be evident to a substitute lawyer, and you may end up - as you say - dropping the case with no remaining bill. That is not such a bad thing if he has incurred significant costs in trying to make your case, as he likely is entitled to reimbursement of those costs under the terms of your retainer agreement.
If you choose NOT to let him go, he can file a motion with the judge asking that he be allowed to withdraw, so he is going to drop you either way. In the latter case, he may have to reveal some distasteful things about you to the court to get released, and you are probably better off just moving on to substitute counsel ASAP, so he/she can either get up to speed before the trial date or move to postpone the trial and properly prepare.