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In NY State Can a workmen's compensation attorney decide not to represent you the night before your court case?

North Salem, NY |

I have been working with a NY based workmens comp attorney for almost three years, every time it's time to appear in court their legal assistant calls me up and asks me to get all the medical documents something their paid for and they are never prepared. Today I spoke to the legal assistant and apparently she didn't like the way I spoke to her and reported it back to my attorney at 5:30pm I get a call from a blocked number and it leaves a voicemail which was my attorney workers comp stating that they were no longer going to represent me. This is a friday and my court date is Monday. He stated that he advised me to look for a attorney over the weekend knowing that I wouldn't find one. There is much more to this. Is it legal for workers comp attorney to do this?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

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.

Asker

Posted

Your response about needing permission I read somewhere else but it was in a case law about workmen's comp and the attorney refused to represent and it came out in court that they were not prepared for the court date so that's why they did so. That's what may be going on in my case too, because they were the one's who called the hearing, not the carriers. I just don't understand why on the day that you called the hearing your going to bail out.

George Ellis Corson IV

George Ellis Corson IV

Posted

New York City Bar Association FAQ Rule 1.16(e). Further, in litigation matters, permission of court is required as a matter of course under applicable rules of procedure, seee.g., N.Y. C.P.L.R. 321(b), which are incorporated into the Rules. See Rule 1.16(d) ("If permission for withdrawal from employment is required by the rules of a tribunal, a lawyer shall not withdraw from employment in a matter before that tribunal without its permission. When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.").

Asker

Posted

If I'm understanding this comment correctly just because my lawyer didn't like the way I spoke to his legal assistant doesn't constitute good cause to terminate, furthermore in order to terminate you must have permission by the judge and present your reasoning before your honor. Thank you all for your comments they are very helpful.

George Ellis Corson IV

George Ellis Corson IV

Posted

First, I don't feel that a VM message saying "Pound Sand/ I Quit" is not valid Withdrawal. My 1.00 bet is that someone will show and make a Motion to be Relieved. There are really only 2 realistic outcomes. 1) You successfully plead for him to stay married to your case, and you remain represented by someone who does not want/believe you, or 2) you unsuccessfully plead for him to stay married to you, but he agrees to waive his fee so you can retain a new Attorney. The Judge should allow you 30-60 days to find another, but it may side-track the case if the new Attorney has a mess to clean up.

Posted

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.

Robert David Elias

Robert David Elias

Posted

Although it is not illegal, it sounds totally unprofessional for the lawyer to do this. You would have to appear in Court and explain this to the Judge. He would probably give you more time to find another attorney.

Posted

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

Leonard Feld

The foregoing is based on the little information provided; additional facts may change the comments given.

Asker

Posted

Hi Mr. Feld, Thank you for responding, it is nice to know that you communicate with your clients. This just happened last night so I have not yet been to court and I understand the piece about the medical records. My attorneys don't tell me anything in advance in fact I don't hear from them unless there is a court date and that's myself initiating the phone call. My attorney actually asked for this hearing scheduled for Monday and never told me about it, I found out through a letter in the mail by workmen's compensation and again initiated a phone call to their office. There is a lot to explain and not enough room to explain it, but after reading the American Bar Associations professional code of ethics they are in violation of many. I appreciate you taking the time out to answer my question you seem like a good lawyer.