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Attorney Fee and ethical issue

Chicopee, MA |

After I had spent a large amount of money on legal fees, I rand out of money. I had to inform my financial situation to my attorney. My attorney filed a motion to withdraw from the case, which I held no objection to, but the Judge, after hearing both sides of the story from me and my attorney, deined the motion and ordered my attorney to defend me. The case was settled a day before trial date.
Now, the attorney is sending me letters demanding payment and is threatening a lawsuit if payment isn't met, but since the Judge ordered him to defend me, I'm questioning weither or not his threats have any legal standing. Is it legal for him to demand payment from defending me on the Judge's order?

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Attorney answers 4


I think you are misunderstanding the judge's order here. A lawyer can seek to withdraw as your attorney if he or she is not being paid. Many times, a judge will deny this request unless it would cause your attorney an extreme hardship to continue to represent you. A judge does not order that a lawyer must represent you, but simply denies the lawyer's attempt to withdraw as your attorney and that the attorney continue to perform according to the original agreement. I suggest you read your fee agreement closely and you should see that you are still obligated to pay the attorney. Even if their is no agreement, the attorney is owed for the amount of work performed just like any other profession. If you ask a landscaper to do a job, the landscaper performs, and the value of the work is defined either by a written contract or a value established in court, you are obligated to pay that amount.

You do not set forth any reason above why the attorney should not be paid. If your claim is that you believe the attorney did not work as hard after the judge's order, such a defense is weakened based on the fact that your attorney was able to help resolve your case and reach a settlement. As only a client can approve a settlement and not an attorney, your agreement to settle supports the fact that your attorney did his or her job.

The content of this answer should not be relied upon or used as a subsitute for consultation with professional advisors and it should be clearly understood that no attorney-client privilege has been created. A more complete answer and/or more accurate answer can only be provided in a more thorough examination of the facts in a consultation with my firm.

Anjali Gupta Stevenson

Anjali Gupta Stevenson


Well thought out and concise answer.


He has to stay in the trial. That doesn't mean that you don't have to pay him. That said, if you are the person who posted before (who has over $100k in legal fees) it's possible you can get a reduction.

You might consider seeking help, from the Mass. BBO.

Do you want accurate, personalized, legal advice that you can rely on? You will have to hire an attorney, not ask on Avvo. I am not your attorney and am not creating an attorney-client relationship by this post. I am therefore giving only general advice. This advice may not apply to you or your situation; may not take account of all possibilities, and may not match the advice I would give to a client. DO NOT rely on this advice or any other advice on Avvo to make your legal decisions. If you want an answer to a legal question you should retain an attorney who is licensed in your state.


The judge denied the motion to withdraw. The judge did NOT order the attorney to provide you with free legal services.

The attorney provided the services. You now need to provide the payment for them.

The foregoing is for general information purposes and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


There are many reasons the judge could have refused to allow your lawyer to withdraw. The judge could have felt that if your attorney withdrew, the judge would have to allow a delay of the trial so as to allow you and your new attorney time to prepare. The judge might have felt that he or she didn't want his/her caseload gummed up with a delay. Or the judge may have felt the attorney had already charged enough. I agree with the other answers that the mere fact that the judge made the lawyer continue does not mean the judge was ordering the attorney to henceforth work for free.