Attorney now wants $X early next week to pay for costs "so far", When I hired this attorney I gave him X+500 as a retainer, I assume he's exhausted initial retainer, and the additional costs up til that point will be X.
We are 98% through with the case, just need to go to trial, trial is a week and a half away. I only have $X+$500 to get through the whole thing, I can make payments later, but $X+500 is it, he will have squeezed every last drop of juice out of the lemon.
My fear is, If I pay him $X as requested, three or four days later he will say he needs $XX or more to go to trial. I will not have those funds, and im afraid a week away from trial, he will attempt to withdraw and screw me when i need him most, leaving me both without an attorney AND without a penny. If hes going to try to withdraw anyway, id rather keep $X as opposed to giving it to him as a parting gift. He knew when we hired him we were not rich and on a limited budget.
Has the attorney made a motion? What does your retainer agreement say? A motion will usually not be granted on the eve of trial, but the thing I'm wondering about here is why there IS a trial. The vast majority of criminal and civil actions are settled before a trial and the need (expensive) to prepare for the trial, whether it happens or not and the parties blink before the judge says "call your first witness" or a jury is chosen and someone's bluff is called. Did you expect to go to trial? Did you pay your attorney an amount designed to cover a trial, or was it assumed a plea bargain or settlement would be proffered that would be a good compromise, or at least tolerable compromise? Has a trial been discussed? Is your attorney recommending you go to trial or is that your preference?
You need to have this candid discussion with your attorney (and please not in the follow up comments or emailing me, I don't and can't know all the ins and outs of this situation, even with further facts)
Topic changed from ethics to litigation.
This answer is provided under the Avvo.com “Terms and Conditions of Use” (“ToU”), particularly ¶¶s 4 and 10 which state that any information provided is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship between you and me or any other attorney. Such information is intended for general informational purposes and should be used only as a starting point for addressing your legal issues. In particular, my answers and those of other attorneys on Avvo.com are not a substitute for an in-person or telephone consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction about your specific legal issue. I can only answer your question based on the brief statement of facts you present in your question which may omit other relevant facts which would be disclosed in an in-person interview. While I attempt to provide reasonable care in answering your questions in an online forum which encourages attorneys to provide brief "off the cuff" responses within several hours of the posting of a question, I cannot perform any further detailed legal research concerning possibly relevant statutory or case law which might apply to your situation that I would normally do in the course of my representation of clients where an attorney-client relationship exists (and you are paying for my services!). You should therefore not rely solely upon legal information you obtain from this website or other resources which may be linked to an answer for informational purposes. You understand that questions and answers or other postings to the Site are not confidential and are not subject to attorney-client privilege. The full Avvo ToU are set forth at http://www.avvo.com/support/terms . Similarly, my terms and conditions for "no cost, no obligation" preliminary consultations are set forth at http://jackle.bo/_consult . In addition, while similar legal principles often apply in many states, I am only licensed to practice in the State of New York and Federal Courts. Any general information I provide about non-New York laws should be checked with an attorney licensed to practice in your State. Lastly, New York State Court rules (22 NYCRR Part 1200, Rule 7.1, available online at http://jackle.bo/_prof ) also require me to inform you that my answers and attorney profile posted on the Avvo.com site may be considered "attorney advertising" and that "prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome".
If the attorney is owed money for work or costs already done or incurred, the attorney will still be entitled to those funds whether or not he withdraws. If the attorney withdraws and you still owe him money, the attorney withdraws and then sues you for the balance due. Bear in mind, attorneys are not slaves. You need to pay them for the services they render. If you went to your job, and worked 8 hours, but the company decided to only pay you for 4, how would you feel? Your inability (or desire not) to pay does not relieve your obligation or responsibility to pay.
Instead of posting this situation here, you should ask THESE EXACT questions to your attorney. Have a clam, but frank discussion with your attorney. I do echo Jack's comment as well, is there really going to be a trial? Does there need to be a trial? Although you posted this as "litigation" practice area, you tagged the post with family law related tags. If you can't afford to go to trial, then settle. Instruct your attorney to come to terms with the other side. Especially in family court matters, trial is a lose lose scenario. I am not saying there is never a fair factual dispute that necessitates a trail, but most of the time, if a family law matter goes to trial, it is because one or both sides are stubborn and acting irrationally.
You need to sit down with your attorney, discuss the status of your case, the need for trail, and the likely outcome of trial. Also, ask your fee related questions. If the case really is 98% done, there wouldn't (or shouldn't) be a need for a trial or any sort of evidentiary hearing. Granted, maybe the other side is being unreasonable and you have no choice (you do have a choice, you can settle even if you are not totally happy with the terms).
It depends on what kind of case it is. A criminal lawyer normally would not be allowed to withdraw. Other lawyers may be able to withdraw, but not a week away from trial. Read the employment contract you signed when you hired the lawyer. Don't let him withdraw without a fight. Ask for a hearing on his motion to withdraw and let the judge decide. If the judge does allow him to withdraw you most likely would be able to continue the trial.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline