Professional Responsibility


Most lawyer-client relationships end when all the relevant work has been completed.

At this time, according to Rule 1.16(d) the lawyer must return any papers and property to which the client is entitled as well as any unearned payment, although most states allow liens over some documents for unpaid bills.

A lawyer still has a duty to protect the confidences of former clients.

Under Rule 1.16, a lawyer may be fired at any time, must withdraw if ethics require, and may withdraw for good cause under Rule 1.16(b), most broadly if he can do so without material adverse effect on the interests of the client but also if he stops being paid, the case will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer, or the client makes representation unreasonably difficult.

If a lawyer has already filed suit for a client, he generally cannot withdraw without the court's permission.