It sounds like that is exactly what happened. In CA, the Attorney needs Court permission to withdraw, but NY may be different. I think he should waive his fee if he wants to abandon you on the Courthouse Steps.
We give free general concepts to be helpful, but you should give ALL your facts to a licensed Attorney in your state before you RELY upon any legal advice.
It may be unprofessional but it is not illegal. That conversation you had with the paralegal must have triggered something. As a general example, if a lawyer found out the night before that his client was going to lie in court about something, the lawyer would be professionally obligated to withdraw. I suppose you will need to show up for court as planned and explain to the judge that your lawyer just quit. But judge may not be very happy with the lawyer.
This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice. If you want to have a free consultation with me, please contact me through AVVO.
Dear Madam or Sir in North Salem:
One must assume you went to the Hearing and told the Judge and he gave you time to find a new attorney.
Regardless of what you think, it is your responsibility to make sure there is medical evidence that you are disabled from your job at least every 6 weeks. We usually tell our own clients to stop by their doctor's office when they first receive a Hearing Notice to get the latest report. Even though you may see your doctor periodically, sometimes they do not simultaneously mail their reports to the Insurance Carrier AND to the WCB, and sometimes not timely.
As far as why your attorney "quit" on you, it is hard to know without having heard your phone conversation with his office. Regardless of how rude or obnoxious you were, he still should have appeared at the Hearing.
Is it illegal for him not to show up; no.
Good Luck with your claim
The foregoing is based on the little information provided; additional facts may change the comments given.