The day before the judge is suppose to enter a judgement against the defendant in a personal injury case, they made a settlement offer which lawyer says is a great deal. When I refused since the judgement might be higher, he threatened to quit the case. Isn't this unethical?
An attorney can ask to be relieved if there is a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. This can happen if the client has unrealistic expectations that could endanger the outcome of the case. If your lawyer is relieved by the judge, he would keep a lien against any proceeds from the suit for time and money already spent on the case, which would be deducted from your next lawyer's fees.
This answer is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. Free initial consultation applies only to individuals with current or potential criminal charges in Butte County, California and adjoining counties.
So the short answer is no, it is not unethical for your lawyer to tell you he will not help you make what he believes is a mistake by refusing what he believes is an advantageous settlement for you. Bear in mind that the lawyer's pay is tied to what he is able to get for you, so there is no reason to question his belief that it is better for both of you to accept the settlement offer. Also, if he is an experienced trial lawyer his assessment of your opportunity to get more money at trial is probably more reliable than your lay opinion. You would be very disappointed if he allowed you to turn down a good settlement only to get less, or even lose and get nothing, after a trial.
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