Category: Firing a Divorce Lawyer

Why Your Lawyer Might Drop Your Case By Braxton Mounteer

So, you have gotten news that your attorney has quit. Your attorney wrote you an email informing you that he or she your counsel either will soon withdraw as your counsel or has filed and served a notice of withdrawal of counsel. What does this mean? How does this work?
Did you not pay your lawyer? Were you not cooperating with your lawyer? Were you disregarding your lawyer’s advice? Actively working against your lawyer? Sabotaging your own case?

Was the case just too much for your lawyer? Did your lawyer get sick or did an emergency arise that requires all of his/her attention? Could your lawyer sense that you were disappointed in your lawyer’s performance and didn’t want to stick around?

Regardless of what the reason was, you no longer have or will soon not have legal counsel. You will need to find another lawyer to represent you.

You may believe that you could do better than your legal counsel. You wouldn’t be the first to think that way. You are likely frightfully mistaken.  Unless you are a genius who can learn in weeks what it take others years to master, you will not get a good enough handle on the legal system in time. Even if you did master the law, that doesn’t mean you can succeed as well as a lawyer could.
The law on the books is not always the law handed down in court. Insiders have, and will always have, an advantage over those who aren’t legal professionals.
And the legal profession is not kind to those who “did not pay their dues” in law school and by taking the bar exam. Pro se litigants (i.e., people who represent themselves in court cases) who are the equals of lawyers in their writing and oral arguments make most lawyers feel inferior and threatened (and that includes the former lawyers who are now judges). When pro se litigants are so “presumptuous” as to think they will be taken as seriously as the lawyers, the system tends to discriminate against the pro se litigants. So even if your lawyer is nothing more than a useful prop, get one.
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Is It a Conflict of Interest and Is It Unethical if I Saw My Divorce Attorney Hug My Husband in Court?

Not likely.

Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019) defines conflict of interest as:

  1. A real or seeming incompatibility between the interests of two of a lawyer’s clients, such that the lawyer is disqualified from representing both clients if the dual representation adversely affects either client or if the clients do not consent. See Model Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 1.7(a) (2013).

Conflict of interest can also include, in the legal representation context, as actions of one’s attorney that exploit the attorney-client relationship for the lawyer’s personal benefit or to the client’s detriment.

So, unless one could somehow show that your attorney hugging your husband in court somehow harming your case or benefiting your attorney at your expense, I don’t see how your attorney hugging your spouse would be a conflict of interest.

It may be awkward or in bad taste from under some circumstances, but a conflict of interest? Not likely.

If the hug raises suspicions as to whether there is a relationship between your husband and your attorney that is itself a conflict of interest, that would not mean that the hug itself is itself an act constituting a conflict of interest.

Each state is different in the way it sets its code of attorney ethics, but the American Bar Association has a model code that many states either adopt or adapt. Here are the three main rules governing conflicts of interest from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

Rule 1.7: Conflict of Interest: Current Clients

Rule 1.8: Current Clients: Specific Rules

Rule 1.10: Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(10) Eric Johnson’s answer to Is it a conflict of interest and is it unethical if I saw my divorce attorney hug my husband in court? – Quora

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What advice would you give to someone who has just started a divorce?

What advice would you give to someone who has just become one of the parties in a divorce proceeding?

#1. Know this: divorce law and the divorce process are almost surely not what you think they are. They are scarier, more complex, more confusing, more time-consuming, more expensive, more disappointing, and more discouraging than you can imagine. Ignore my words at your peril. 

#2. Don’t sign anything your spouse asks you to sign without reviewing it with a good divorce lawyer. Don’t let what your spouse tells you about “how it’s gonna be” upset or worry you. Don’t believe him/her when he/she says, “My lawyer says you must ______” or “I have the best lawyer in town.” Most of what your spouse tells you will be lies meant to intimidate, coerce, and dupe you. 

#3. Don’t take friends’ and family members’ advice as as substitute for the advice of a good attorney. Your friends and family members usually mean well, but have no idea what they’re talking about. 

#4. Keep an eye on your valuable things and information. They tend to disappear once a divorce is filed. Secure: 

  • your financial accounts against your spouse draining them; 
  • your important documents (this is not an exhaustive list): 
    • tax records 
    • loan/debt records, loan and credit applications 
    • appraisals/valuations 
    • bank/financial institution records 
    • insurance records 
    • birth certificates 
    • Social Security cards 
    • passports (for you and the kids) 
    • pay stubs 
    • account statements 
    • certificates of title 
    • estate planning records 
    • business records 
    • medical and health care records (for every member of the family) 
    • photographs 
    • your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, if you have one 
    • etc. 

Inventory everything (take videos and photographs of it all) that you own (both jointly and separately); 

  • make sure your password-protected accounts (e-mail, cell phone, social media, credit cards, bank/financial institution accounts, bills to pay, financial accounts, credit cards, etc.) cannot be accessed by your spouse without your advance knowledge and consent; 
  • route your personal mail to a P.O. Box to which only you have access; 

#5. Don’t act out of fear or anger or revenge. If you do, you may do your case irreparable damage. Keep a cool head. Get a good divorce attorney’s advice. 

#6. Talk to a good divorce lawyer (not just any lawyer, not just any divorce lawyer, but a good divorce lawyer) now. Right now. Not next week. Now. Right now. Pick up the phone and make an appointment with a good divorce lawyer right now. Timing can and usually is crucial in divorce. 

  • The longer you put off speaking with a good divorce lawyer the more you lose (possibly forever) the benefits of knowing what you can and should be doing right now to protect and preserve your interests and those of your children (if you have minor children). 
  • Notice that I did not write “hire a good divorce lawyer right now.” If you can hire a good divorce lawyer right now, do it. The sooner you get competent legal representation the better. No exceptions. 
  • But if you do not have (or falsely believe you do not have) the money to afford a good divorce lawyer, scrape together enough money to meet and confer with a good divorce lawyer for an hour. It will be one of the best investments you ever make. 
    • A good divorce lawyer is not a bulldog. A good divorce lawyer is not a shark. a good divorce lawyer is not someone who is effective at cheating ( as the old Bosnian proverb goes, “He who will lie for you will lie to you.”) A good divorce lawyer is someone with experience, skill, and decency. These kinds of divorce lawyers exist, but are very hard to find. But they are worth finding. If you want your divorce to be less expensive, less time-consuming, and less miserable, find this kind of good divorce lawyer. 

#7. Unless you are young, penniless, childless, and convinced your spouse won’t or can’t hang you out to dry in divorce, don’t go the DIY route. Hire a good divorce lawyer, if at all possible. 

  • If you: 
    • earn money or receive money from other sources 
      • are self-employed 
    • own property of any kind 
    • have money in the bank, investment accounts, or tied up in a pension and/or retirement accounts 
    • have debts and obligations 
    • are financially dependent upon your spouse 
    • have a spouse who is financially dependent on you (in full or in part) 
    • have minor children 
    • are married to a malicious or crazy-malicious person 
      • have been accused of abusing your spouse or children, 

then odds are high that trying to divorce without a good lawyer’s representation throughout the divorce case is going to be absolutely miserable.  

 Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277   

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If you give a divorce lawyer a retainer on a divorce and then change your mind within a few days, are they obligated to return the retainer?

While I cannot speak for all jurisdictions and for all situations, generally an attorney to whom you have paid a retainer or advance deposit is obligated to return the unearned portion of that retainer/deposit if you terminate that attorney’s services, especially if you terminate the attorney’s services within days of retaining the attorney.

You will need to read your contract/representation agreement that you have with your attorney and gain an understanding of the ethical rules that govern attorney compensation in your jurisdiction to determine if there are exceptions to this general principle.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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When it comes to divorce and family law firms, never hire on faith and hope

Do your research with due diligence. Interview a lot of different firms and attorneys (I’m talking 5 to 10, not just 2 or 3—you’ll never get a feel for the diversity of competence and incompetence unless you do). Don’t be offensive in your questioning, but do ask candid and serious questions of those you interview to get an idea of the lawyer’s (and of the office’s) personality and professional culture, and approach to the work.  

Lawyers are trained to be persuasive, so don’t be taken in by simply what they say or how well you perceive they say it. Most lawyers who are mediocre and incompetent can still charm you in conversation fairly well, if you’re not discerning.  

Don’t hire the least expensive or the most expensive attorney. Hire the best attorney you can afford, and if the best attorney you can afford is incompetent, then you either need to get more money for a good attorney or you’re probably better off with no attorney at all. Paying an incompetent attorney is just wasting your money.  

Don’t base your decision on online reviews. Great online lawyer reviews are easy to fake and usually are fake.  

Don’t hire based solely or primarily upon the recommendations of friends alone. Some friends have no idea who’s good or bad, but they “recommend” people so that they look smart and connected, not really to help you. Some friends surprisingly don’t know a good attorney from a bad one, even if they think they do.  

Even when you’ve done your best to ensure you hired a good attorney, it is virtually impossible to know whether you’ve hired a good or bad divorce and family lawyer until after you’ve worked with him/her for a few days or weeks. Pay close attention in those first days and weeks.  

“Hire slow, fire fast” is good advice for who your attorney is. Take your time to find who you believe—after conducting a solid investigation—is a good attorney before you hire one. In the unfortunate event you realize your attorney stinks, don’t beat yourself up about; many, many lawyers succeed by being deceitful. But once you discover your choice of attorney was a bad choice (a bad lawyer), replace him/her as fast as you reasonably can. Don’t try to reform your bad attorney. Odds are high that it won’t work. Don’t hold on to your incompetent attorney because of sunk costs. Your lousy attorney will only cost you more the longer he/she stays on your case. Hire slow, but fire (when you need to fire) fast.  

If your lawyer: 

  • (or a member of his/her staff) returns your calls and emails and text messages promptly and addresses all of your questions and concerns (your good, thoughtful questions and concerns—if you are the type who runs to the phone or the computer in a panic or on a whim with any and every question having failed to do your own homework first, expect your lawyer to get testy with you sooner than later); 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) promptly sends you complete copies of correspondence with opposing counsel and others involved in the case; 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) promptly sends you complete copies of everything he/she files with the court and that opposing counsel files with the court; 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) sends you drafts of the motions and other documents he/she is preparing to file with the court, so that you can review and comment on them and approve them for filing with the court before they are filed with the court; 
  • and his/her staff reflect a desire to do their best in every aspect of their work; 
  • checks in with you regularly to give you update and to see how you’re holding up; 
  • explains the legal process to you before you file your case and as your case unfolds; 
  • shows up to court on time, is clearly knowledgeable of the facts and the applicable law, and is prepared to argue your case zealously at hearings; 
  • isn’t afraid to tell you when your case or elements of your case is/are weak, and doesn’t offer or agree to do whatever you want “if the price is right”; and  
  • isn’t afraid to take your case to trial (in other words, isn’t champing at the bit to get you to agree to quick and dirty settlement), 

you likely have a good lawyer. A lawyer who delivers real value for the money you pay your lawyer. If your lawyer or his/her staff doesn’t do these all of these things, you likely have a bad lawyer.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Do top lawyers advertise?

I have yet to see the best of the best lawyers advertise, and the most likely explanation is that they don’t advertise because they don’t need to advertise. 

But if you think this means any lawyer who doesn’t advertise “must be the best of the best,” you’d be wrong (that is, if I recall correctly, committing the fallacy of affirmative conclusion from a negative premise). While the best attorney’s do not advertise, that does not mean that any attorney who does not advertise is the best. Some lousy attorneys don’t advertise because they’re too poor or too lazy to advertise. Some excellent attorneys advertise (even though they might not need to do so). 

But there are the truly elite lawyers who are so good that they don’t need to advertise—those who need their particular kind of service know (or know people who know) who they are. 

Which brings up a good point: most advertising consists lies and deception. Anyone who buys any good or service based exclusively or even primarily upon the impression the advertising for that good or service made on the buyer is a fool. Advertising tries to find you. If you want quality, however, you must usually seek, define, and find it yourself. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How much should you trust your lawyer? Part 2

This blog is in response to a comment made to a  video entitled How much should you trust your lawyer?

“The biggest problem I’ve encountered with attorneys isn’t legal competence but the “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail” problem. Emotions not motions is often the answer.”

I hear that frequently. And it is a good point, but 1) it means different things to different people and 2) it’s not as good a point an many people (particularly clients of lawyers) think.  

Yes, there are attorneys who stir up trouble and litigate either because they know no other way or because it’s lucrative for them. But there are also attorneys who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and do the necessary and difficult work of making the sausage once a dispute is submitted to the court’s for resolution. Many clients find they don’t have the stomach for seeing how the sausage is made. They come to realize they didn’t understand just how difficult, time-consuming, and costly litigation is. Rather than admit that they made a mistake, they will often claim that the lawyers and the legal system are the problem.* 

Many clients want to believe that “if we’d just talk it out, the opposing side and I could work it out.” This is true in some, but not all, cases. If “we can work it out between us ourselves, without involving attorneys and the courts” were true, most people who hire lawyers wouldn’t hire lawyers because they would have no reason and no need to hire lawyers.  

The fact is that many people can’t or won’t resolve their differences voluntarily between them. They take positions that they feel are irreconcilable, and when that happens, one or both of them resorts to litigation. 

Subsequently, the clients who hire lawyers get frustrated (and many times justifiably so) with how needlessly and/or inexplicably expensive, slow/inefficient, and nerve wracking the legal process is. That’s often when the parties on both sides of the dispute suddenly “see the light” and “wonder why” they are engaged in litigation when all they need to do is speak from the heart.  

Experiencing the miseries of litigation often motivates the parties to believe it’s better for them to settle out of court. Somehow they come to see that a dispute that the parties thought was irreconcilable becomes something they can and should quickly and simply compromise.  

*I personally believe that many court procedures and systems are either outright designed or at least administered in such a way as to make the process miserable, so that the parties will settle their case out of court (thus relieving the burden on the legal system). This is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  


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How would my fiancé go about getting any sort of custody for his child?

That is an extremely broad question. The best way to start: find a good domestic relations lawyer (a good one, not just any) and schedule a consultation with him/her so that your fiancé can explain the situation to the lawyer, learn from the lawyer what your fiancé’s options may be, and ask what the lawyer might advise your fiancé to do. 

Free consultations are usually a “get what you pay for situation,” so forewarned is forearmed. And most “free consultations” are really sales pitches in disguise. Better to schedule a consultation that you have paid for. You will get more of the attorney’s attention and more likely will get an objective assessment of the case. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Why are child support and custody attorneys so expensive?

Because the work: 

  • requires a lot of knowledge of both the written (and unwritten*) rules that most people don’t have the time, interest, or ability to learn and apply correctly; and 
  • is miserable. 

This is why people with family law disputes either cannot or will not do the work themselves and would rather pay (even when it hurts) to have a skilled attorney (if you don’t hire a skilled attorney you’re just flushing your money and effort and odds of success down the toilet) do the work for them. 

One more factor: 

  • people who represent themselves in their own legal matters (any legal matter, including divorce and family law matters) are often treated shabbily by the courts and by the opposing party’s attorney. Even if you knew your stuff as well as an attorney, the fact that you are not attorney leaves many in the legal profession to look down their noses at you. 
    • In fairness, most people who are not lawyers who try to navigate the legal system make more than a mess of their case; they waste a lot of time and cause a lot of unnecessary trouble. 
    • Many people who represent themselves don’t do so because they are poor but because they are mentally ill. This is another reason why self-represented parties are looked upon with skepticism, suspicion, and distrust by the courts. 

*You’d be forgiven if you read the statutes and rules and then thought you know how they apply. The truth is that 1) the courts have such broad discretion to construe and apply the rules that it’s truly impossible to predict the outcome of your case based upon what the written statutes and rules provide; and 2) many courts twist and violate the statutes and rules (some inadvertently, some intentionally) in the name of “doing what’s right” or by invoking the justification of justifications: “the best interest of the child.” 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  


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Why is a lawyer charging me $1,500 for a court order?

I do not know. Ask your lawyer. And ask sincerely. Feel free to be frank, but ask sincerely.

If his/her answer does not make sense (and you’re being honest with yourself and not trying to act as though you don’t understand), then say so.

If, after your lawyer takes another stab at explaining the bill, your lawyer’s answers still honestly don’t make sense, it may be that you were overcharged.

If you honestly believe you were overcharged (and you aren’t simply making false claims of being overcharged for the purpose of taking advantage of your attorney), then say so. If your attorney agrees (whether he/she will admit it or not), your attorney may reduce your bill.

If your attorney will not reduce the bill despite your complaints/requests for a reduction, then you may have good cause to take the matter up with the bar association and/or with a court.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Divorce Lawyer

So you’ve paid your divorce attorney $10,000 or so, it’s been 6 months, and essentially nothing’s getting done. What went wrong?

It could be many things. If you have a bad lawyer (and that’s highly possible) you have my sympathies. Know you’re in good company. So many people choose lawyers the wrong ways. If you realize you picked a bad lawyer, fire and replace that lawyer as soon as you reasonably can, then please share your experiences with as many people as you can, so that they don’t make the same mistakes and suffer as you have.

Most people who hire the wrong lawyer do so by:

1. hiring due to unrealistic fears and expectations which opportunistic lawyers exploit to get people to write such lawyers a blank check (or if not a blank check, a way too big check).

2. hiring too fast (without doing enough searching to find the best lawyer they can afford).

3. hiring too cheap (choosing a lawyer based upon the “lowest bidder” is a recipe for disaster because cheap lawyers are, with rare exception (“so rare it’s not worth so much as hoping for”) lawyers who are incompetent in one way or more. Usually, cheap lawyers are sloppy, lazy, stupid, and/or crooked. That stated, it is not true that the more one pays for a lawyer the better the lawyer will be. You have to find the sweet spot: best value for the money.

a. Good lawyers don’t come cheap, period.

b. A case is rarely won fast and thus rarely won on the cheap.

4. hiring based upon a recommendation. Unless the person who recommended the lawyer to you is someone you know to be so much like you, who has needs and interests, a situation, and a personality so much like you as to be practically indistinguishable from you, taking another’s recommendation on who to hire as an attorney is usually a bad move. **By all means, seek recommendations and seek opinions as to which lawyers to avoid**, **but **make up your own mind by doing your own research and by interviewing the lawyers yourself. Case in point: the lawyer who kicked your best friend’s butt may be the perfect lawyer to kick your spouse’s butt, but your best friend is not likely to tell you that because your best friend likely harbors a grudge against that lawyer.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How long will an attorney work on your case if you can’t afford to pay them any more? This would be for a divorce and they start to realize that they’re not going to get money from the other spouse.

It depends mostly upon whether your attorney has a big heart and/or no head for business. Generally, an attorney who takes your case without being paid as he/she goes, but defers payment in the hope that he/she will be paid out of what you collect from your spouse is probably not a very intelligent or competent attorney.

Some attorneys (usually new ones or desperate ones—and desperate ones are often new ones) will work a case, even if a client stops paying for his/her work, long after the client stops paying. These kinds of attorneys do this in the desperate hope that the client will eventually pay or because they believe that by getting stiffed they are heroes/martyrs.

In truth, however, these kinds of attorneys are simple fools because clients who have stopped paying (not fallen behind but got caught up—those kinds of clients are fairly common, and we’ve all been a little short sometimes, so it’s good when a creditor will cut us a little slack, as long as we don’t abuse the creditor’s good will) almost never, ever resume paying or paying their past due balances.

To be sure, sometimes a client honestly runs out of money, and when that occurs, the attorney must understand that he/she cannot stay in business working for people who don’t pay for his/her services.

There is a class of clients who are simply grifters; they seek out the easy marks and when they find them, they exploit them. These are people who deliberately plan on paying an attorney some money up front to get a case going (and to get the attorney mentally and emotionally invested in the case), who then stop paying but keep the attorney slaving away by telling the attorney things along the lines of, “Oh, I’ve had some hard times, but I will pay you just as soon as I can, so keep working and I’ll pay you eventually, I promise,” or “Once you win me that chunk of money, I’ll pay you out of that,” or, “Please help me! I need this so badly! Think of the children!!!,” stuff like that. Such clients are poison.

Some lawyers (I was such a lawyer once) believe that non-paying clients are better than no clients, so they keep working for non-paying clients in the pathetic (but all too human) belief/hope that the client will be so happy with the great work the attorney does that the client cannot help but finally pay the bill out of gratitude and decency. Such lawyers are chumps.

Other attorneys get a sense of nobility from working without pay “to help a struggling client” and to “make my little corner of the world a better place”. Now don’t get me wrong: attorneys will, at times, volunteer to help those who are poor, but there’s a difference between choosing to work without pay and being duped into working without pay. There’s nothing noble about being a sucker.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Does having the judge interview the children traumatize the children?

Does having the judge interview the children traumatize the children?


This post is the second in series of 15 posts on the subject of custody evaluations and the appointment of guardians ad litem (“GALs” for short) in Utah child custody cases when the judge could simply interview the children instead. You do not have to read all 16 posts to benefit from this series. Read as many or as few as you wish.

The purpose of this series is to make the case for the proposition that an interview by the judge is a faster, more accurate, more particular, more reliable, and less expensive form of evidence than what a GAL and/or custody evaluator provides.


Does having the judge interview the children traumatize the children? You may have heard the argument along the lines of, “Having a judge interview children is tantamount to child abuse.” If you haven’t heard it yet, all you have to do to make that happen is propose that the judge interview your children. The same people who claim judges interviewing kids harms kids will, with a straight face, claim that having a child interviewed by a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator is in some way functionally and/or effectively different from and better than being interviewed by a judge. Really?


I submit to you that virtually no child knows or cares about the difference between a judge or a guardian ad litem or psychologist interviewing a child. And while I will be among the first to admit that a mental health professional like an LCSW or psychologist may generally be a bit more skilled than the average judge at interviewing children about child custody issues, I submit that the difference is not so great as to justify spending $3,000 to $10,000 or more on a custody evaluation with an LCSW or psychologist, especially when the custody evaluation interview, like the interviews with the GAL, are not on the record, which means there’s no way of knowing how well the interviews were conducted or what said or not said by the child, if in fact the interviews ever took place at all.

Contrastingly, an interview conducted by the judge, as authorized by the Utah legislature/Utah Code § 30-3-10(5), is free of charge to the parents, takes far less time than an interview with a custody evaluator, would take about as much time as an interview would with a GAL, is directly from the child witness’s mouth to the judge’s ear (that way there are no hearsay or other second hand information concerns), and is on the record to ensure that there is no question as to how well the interview was conducted, what the child was and was not asked, and what the child did and did not say in response.


Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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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.)?

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:

Rule 1.16(d):

(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.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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If my current attorney stinks, can I hire a new one?

If my current attorney stinks, can I hire a new one?

Great question. And one that many clients are afraid to ask (or afraid to get an answer). But the answer is good news:

You are not stuck with the attorney you started out with.

Yes, you can fire your attorney.

I’ve made two videos about the power and freedom you have to fire an attorney you’re not satisfied with[1]:

You Can Fire Your Attorney, Even in Court If Necessary


You Can Fire Your Attorney at Any Time!

Unless your attorney is so bad (i.e., doing you more harm than good) that you’d be better off with no attorney than another moment with the bad attorney, it’s best that you not fire your current attorney before you have found an attorney you want to replace your current attorney.

Once you have found the attorney you want to replace your current attorney, you hire the new attorney, and then notify your old attorney that he/she has been replaced. Make sure it’s in writing too.

If you’re uncomfortable with telling your attorney yourself, “You’re fired,” then you can ask your new attorney to break the news. Your new attorney is permitted to do so (and your new attorney should have no objection to doing so).

Your new attorney will then give notice to the opposing party and the court of the substitution of counsel, so that everyone in the case is aware of the change.

Replacing your attorney is your right, it’s not hard, and if you have a lousy attorney, you should replace your attorney with a good one as soon as possible. Your attorney is your representative, and if your attorney is doing a bad job, then your attorney is making you look bad.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

[1] Bear in mind that I practice divorce and family law in Utah, so make sure you learn the rules in your jurisdiction, but the principles should be similar in most jurisdictions (and note: while I am the one who wrote the script for these videos, the man in the video is Brian Godfrey, who was my legal assistant at the time).

Click to listen highlighted text!