Can a Lawyer Drop a Client for Not Paying? Jail, Sue?

Lawyers Dropping Clients On The Basis Of Not Getting Paid


The relationship between a lawyer and a client is similar to that of an employee and employer. A client seeks the services of the lawyer and that is why they hire them to represent them in full jurisdiction.

They handle confidential information concerning the client as well as represent them in a court of justice.

These are just some of the sort services clients seek from lawyers. These services have to be paid for depending on the kind of agreement between the two parties.

The lawyer is entitled to an amount that he feels is comfortable to handle the client’s issues and should be of a mutual understanding between the two.

Apart from the salary or payments, a lawyer is also entitled to refunds on expenses made on behalf of the client. These expenses may include medical records, investigation and transport expenses.

Lawyers work is to represent the client and should not incur further expenses on behalf of them.

However, lawyers need to be honest in the amounts spent as they should not benefit from refunds as profits made.

A lawyer is entitled to payment for services rendered means that they can drop a case if not paid. This is because they will be rendering services which are unpaid for.

What are some of the basis of dropping the case?


Breach of contract

A client and lawyer are bound by a contract that they have both signed stipulating that the lawyer is working or representing the client is a matter of the law as well as in contract signing.

This hence means that the contract contains a sum of money which the lawyer is to be paid.

If not stipulated there has to be an allowance that considers the payments to be made. This being a sealed agreement by the signature of the two means that the client needs to pay the lawyer what is due.

If they do not, they have breached the contract and the lawyer can quit by ending the contract on the basis of this.

They can sue the client on the basis of this and demand compensation for works done and a further sum for breach of the contract.


Unpaid expenses

A lawyer working on the case for a client may end up paying some expenses expecting reimbursement from the client. This should actually be the case since the client is not always there to cater for some expenses.

The lawyer can get into there pocket and cater for it and get receipts to show that they actually incurred some expenses due to the case belonging to the client.

If not paid this means that the lawyer has spent their own money in a case which doesn’t belong to him. He is only representing the client and he is neither the plaintiff nor the defendant.

A lawyer may feel this shouldn’t be the case and if they demand a refund and they are not paid they can quit. This is because they cannot spend their own money on your case and you do not honor the refund.

A lawyer, however, is supposed to work with the client until a case is resolved. This is a rule of professional responsibility as they owe the client a duty of care.

However, this doesn’t still mean they can drop a client for not paying. They can and this is actually why you will find a lawyer refusing to work on contingency and prefer an hourly rate payment scheme. This way they will claim their payment as per whether the case is won or not.

Learn more: Why Understanding Lawyer Billing Ethics can Save You A Lot of Money and Headache


While dealing with a lawyer and they quit on a client while a case is ongoing or not there some consequences to it.

They include:

Confidentiality of information

Once your lawyer quits on you you lack confidentiality of sensitive information that you had shared with them. They are under no obligation to disclose this information but keeping on switching lawyers from time to time makes your details spread a lot. This hence means that you should have one lawyer if possible pay them well and you will have your documents well saved.


Sue for breach

Your lawyer can actually end up being your plaintiff once they quit on you. This is because they are entitled to payments by you as per the contract signed by both of you.

If you do not honor this the can terminate the contract and sue you on this grounds. This time you will have to hire another lawyer, pay the new lawyer, pay your previous lawyer what was due and maybe even pay extra compensation for breach of the contract.

This will be quite expensive for you.


Catching up

Once your lawyer quits on you for not paying them during a case you need to hire another one right? This means that you have to start all over again from scratch, share all the details and build the case from where the lawyer left. This may take quite some time before they catch up which is not a good thing for you. This is because cases are based on time duration and if they are not well informed and confident on how to handle it because they couldn’t catch up well you could lose the case.


How about an over-billing lawyer?

Lawyers are entitled to payments but this doesn’t mean that they should rip of it. They should not use this as an opportunity to over-bill clients just because they seek their services.

If a lawyer quits because you saw to it that the charges were quite exaggerated you do not have to worry as the law will take its course. This is because you can actually prove that the basis of him quitting on you because you did not pay was as per over-billing.

Clients too should know that they are entitled to fair and reasonable pay quotes by lawyers.


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