When a lawyer drops a client, is the reason shared with the judge and/or opposing counsel (i.e., the client refused to be reasonable, etc.)?
In Utah, where I practice divorce and family law, the answer is: no.
When a lawyer drops a client/stops representing a client (known as “withdrawing as counsel” for that client), the lawyer is not permitted to inform the judge or opposing counsel as to the reasons why. This is due to the attorney’s duties to keep confidential 1) the communications between attorney and client and 2) the information relating to the representation of the client. See Utah Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct:
(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests[.]”
Rule 1.6. Confidentiality of Information.
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).
(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(b)(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(b)(2) to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services;
(b)(3) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of a crime or fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer’s services;
(b)(4) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;
(b)(5) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client;
(b)(6) to comply with other law or a court order; or
(b)(7) to detect and resolve conflicts of interest arising from the lawyer’s change of employment or from changes in the composition or ownership of a firm, but only if the revealed information would not compromise the attorney-client privilege or otherwise prejudice the client.
(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.
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