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Should Fiduciary Duties of an attorney prevent terminating his/her representation or abandoning the client with no sound reason?

Los Angeles, CA |

When a client is represented by an attorney in an action a relationship and commitment is established such that the attorney should act only with utmost fairness and in good faith.

However, when such attorney who does not attempt to engage in discovery seriously and does not contact the client's witnesses to verify the facts, is effectively demonstrating that is not acting in the best interest of the client.

When such attorney makes an early CCP 998 offer to defendants and shortly later communicates to the client as:
" I will wait to see if Defendants accept the CCP 998 offer and if they do not I will be going to file a motion to withdraw as your attorney";
Is she/he NOT breaching the Fiduciary Duties?
Is she/he NOT abandoning the client?
Is such attorney NOT acting in bad faith?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    1. First question is your arrangement contingency or hourly? If hourly, then the attorney is only going to put in effort (i.e. his time) in relation to how much you are paying him.

    2. In any event, the two of you should discuss a proposed plan of attack. You should understand what discovery is or should take place and what the trade off is in working for an early settlement (for less money, but at less invested cost) vs. litigating aggressively (incurring more costs and possibly fees) in the hopes of a better result.

    3. This analysis should also factor in the time value of money and your willingness to incur risk. For example., to net $10,000 today versus the potential of netting $30,000 next year would likely be acceptable to some people and unacceptable to others. These are things your attorney needs to know and considerations you should undertake in order for the two of you to make intelligent decisions as to how to resolve your case.

    This answer is for guidance only and is not intended nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.


  2. Facts are important in any legal analysis. You have not provided any. An attorney is not an indentured servant. There is nothing in the scenario you posit that speaks of bad faith, breach of any fiduciary duty, or client abandonment. The attorney alone controls the handling of the case. Your option, if you do not like how it is being handled, is to retain different counsel. Your attorney, from what you write, intends to exercise the prerogative of an attorney to file a motion for leave to withdraw. You can cut to the chase and voluntarily relieve your attorney. From what you write it appears both of you will be happier once you part ways.

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  3. You may always retain a new attorney.

    Here that seems to be what you'd desire.