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Gone but Not Forgotten: Motions to Withdraw as Counsel

January 7, 2015
Elizabeth Scott Moïse

When the job offer from a Wall Street law firm came, Audrey left South Carolina for the bright lights of the big city. Audrey and her partners removed her name from the signature blocks for all of her litigation cases, and the cases continued. 

Just as Audrey was settling into her second year in Manhattan, she was served with pleadings in a malpractice action that was based on the handling of a discovery matter after Audrey had moved. She was uneasy about the idea of her name being mentioned in the same breath as the word "malpractice," but her role in the case was small - her name was one of four lawyers on the signature block of a complaint - and, furthermore, she was not the client's attorney when the alleged malpractice had occurred. She could not be liable for their negligence. Or could she? 

Similar to a marriage, when lawyers and clients part ways, they cannot simply pack up and leave. Instead, they are bound to each other in an attorney-client relationship until withdrawing as counsel after clear notice, and if the lawyer has made an appearance in court on behalf of the client, she must get court approval. Taking a few steps could have avoided this nasty situation.

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