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Is it ethically, morally or legally wrong to leave a lawsuit case before completing the terms promised? Please see below...

Buffalo, NY |

My attorney made promises to appeal, do a renewal of argument and try to get the case dismissed based on lack of evidence and moving forward by the opposing party. The attorney is a Pro-Bono attorney who stated they had to leave the state for medical reasons and claimed it was for a family member which have family members living nearby their residence. Then they stated that they were not feeling well either...yet they were receiving care within the present state and then purchased a Harley. This attorney, not part of another firm, stated they would continue to represent us through the remainder of the case do to ethical reasons. They stated they will see this case through unless they become deceased. Paper trial of all this within written emails. No longer can contact or no response.

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Attorney answers 4


Review your retainer agreement. Schedule an appointment with your current lawyer or consult with another one ASAP there are time deadlines for appeals and to make motions to reargue.

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Whast governs the relationship is the written agreement. See what is says about scope of work and appeal.s


Hi, Buffalo. I assume you're the same person who asked a similar question yesterday here which was asked and answered with a new detail: the attorney was a pro bono attorney working for free. (Better to include this kind of relevant fact update in the "Additional Information" box of your original question or in a comment in response to an answer rather than to start a new thread...especially if you don't like the answers you are hearing...don't shoot the messenger...we're only trying to help :-)

It's possible you could complain to the state bar authorities that regulate the attorney, in your case, the Fourth Department here but my guess is that if the attorney didn't have a retainer letter with you (a binding contract) and never took money from you to do the work, his promises to fight for you until the death aren't going to raise a lot of eyebrows with the Appellate Judges and staff that regulate emails, despite the emails and the Harley allegations. If he moved out of state, he's not that interested in his NY law license, obviously, and continuing to practice in the state.

Generally speaking, contracts that cannot be completed in a year, like seeing your litigation through to the end require written agreements and "consideration" (payment in return for his promise of performance, a normal contract rule, and the "statute of frauds" requiring written contracts).

Grievance committees are more concerned with an attorney is stealing clients' money by taking retainers without performing the work or communicating with the client, making fraudulent legal papers, or stealing client escrow moneys. I don't think a grievance committee would enforce an obligation to complete a pro bono assignment where there's no consideration (payment by the client). I could be wrong, and you can complain, but it doesn't seem like a winner to me.

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We are not lawyers so if we leave out pertinent information it is not directed or personal but rather unknown to the regular person...


Short answers:
1. No
2. No
3. No
There are circumstances where an attorney may withdraw that do not violate ethical, moral, or legal obligations. How the authorities will view each situation almost always begins with the written representation agreement--what do its provisions state regarding the agreement between the attorney and the client.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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