As has been discussed on this blog before, a client has the right to fire her lawyer for any reason or for no reason.
Lawyers may not be happy when such decisions are made, but when a client fires her lawyer, the lawyer must certainly abide by the client’s wishes.
If there is a pending lawsuit, the lawyer must then go a step further and withdraw. Both ethics rules and agency law require it.
One Georgia case reached the same conclusion.
In Matter of Collins, 246 Ga. 325, 325 (1980), a client notified her attorney in writing that he was discharged. But the attorney refused to quit or return her retainer funds.
The Georgia Supreme Court held that a “client has a clear right to discharge [her] attorney at any time, and upon dismissal the attorney is bound to withdraw from employment.”
According to the Court, the attorney apparently held a belief that he could not be discharged and that he had the right to continue the case.
The Court found that argument without merit, that the attorney’s actions constituted a willful violation of the ethics rules, and that the attorney should be publicly reprimanded.
So if a client fires you, get over it and move on. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for a public reprimand … or worse.