Lawyeringlaw.com Tip of the Month

Tip for September 2017

When Clients Stop Paying Fees, Don't Simply Stop Working

Sometimes when clients stop paying invoices for legal services rendered, lawyers simply stop working on the matter, whether it is a case in litigation or a transaction that is moving toward closure. The problem with that strategy is that it is not sanctioned by the Rules of Professional Conduct and if it results in some adverse consequence to the client, could result in a malpractice claim. The Rules of Professional Conduct require that lawyers handle cases competently and with reasonable diligence and promptness. There is no exception to these requirements for matters in which the client has failed to abide by an agreement to pay fees. If a client stops paying fees, the lawyer may stop doing any work that does not need to be done immediately to avoid prejudice to the client, but should continue to do whatever is necessary to protect the client's interests until the lawyer has withdrawn. It is withdrawal from the representation that is the appropriate response to the non-payment of fees, not simply a cessation of work.