September 01, 2016

Dropping a Client Like a “Hot Potato”

When a lawyer seeks to terminate a client-lawyer relationship to take on a matter adverse to the client, the lawyer is committing a potential breach of the fiduciary duty of loyalty owed to that client.

Michael Downey

Paradox was waiting when Ethox entered the office. “I have a question for you,” Paradox said. “I have been losing some sleep over it.”

“What’s the issue?” Ethox voiced concern.

“Our firm has been representing Jay on an assortment of matters,” Paradox began, “since we represented Jay in the suit brought over dissolution of Jay’s partnership with Kaye.”

“I remember the Jay-Kaye litigation quite well,” Ethox responded. “It was the subject of several of our earlier discussions on ethics issues.”

“Precisely,” Paradox said. “Since the litigation with Kaye ended, our work has been pretty sporadic. The last time I did billable work for Jay was about four weeks ago. Jay still has not paid our invoice for that work.

“Now, however,” Paradox continued, “I have been asked by Senior Partner to fire Jay as a client.”

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