From time to time, an attorney seeks to be relieved as counsel of record on a case due to various issues between the attorney and client. In most cases, unless the client has set on a course of illegality, threatened to commit perjury or wishes to pursue fraudulent claims, the attorney must get the consent of the client or permission from the Court to withdraw as counsel of record. The most frequently cited reasons for an attorney to seek permission to be relieved as counsel are: (a) a material breakdown in the communication between attorney and client and (b) the client has ceased paying their invoices.
I recently submitted an application to the Court seeking to end my representation of a client based upon there being a material breakdown in the communication between attorney and client. The Court set down my application for a hearing next week. Normally, counsel for the other side waives their appearance at such a hearing and waits to see if the Court grants the application. If the Court grants it, the attorney applying to withdraw as counsel is relieved and the Court notifies all other attorneys on the case of the next Court date.
Sometimes, though, attorneys who love to hear themselves talk take the opportunity to notify the Court that, even though they do not oppose the applicant from being relieved from the case, they want to be present for the hearing. In this case, the AFC (attorney for the children) waived her appearance and stated she did not oppose my application to be relieved. However, my adversary, claiming that he needed to be present so that he could coordinate with the Court on the next Court date should my relief be granted, asked the Court to move the case from the morning docket next week to the afternoon docket. His doing so set off a chain reaction of emails between all attorneys on the matter and the Court. The Court insisted that he need not be present and that the Court would coordinate with all other attorneys on a new Court date. This was not good enough for “Loves to hear himself talk, Esquire” — he stated he had a right to be there. The Court – in a move likely made just to piss off this attorney, decided to grant him his wish. So now, my application to be relieved as counsel is postponed until late December and then, after that, if I am granted my request to withdraw as attorney of record, it will be at least another month to month and one half before the Court set another date.
So, rather than just waive his appearance and get a Court date for a few weeks from now – Mr. Know-It-All has caused the delay he was insisting would be avoided. Be careful what you wish for!