One of the things that really bothers me with regard to criminal defense practice is lawyers that attempt to withdraw from the representation of defendant well into The case. There is simply no reason for a criminal defense lawyer to take on a misdemeanor case and hold on that case for approximately 18 months and then attempt to withdraw from the representation about a month prior to the scheduled trial date.
What we are seeing are lawyers that take on clients for very low fees, engage in an extended payment plan, and attempt to withdraw from the client's case when they cannot pay the balance in full near the conclusion of the case. First, the client/defendant obviously had financial trouble at the time that the representation began. Further, the lawyer is actually hurting the client by engaging in this sort of business practice. It is the client that is hurt when the lawyer withdraws 2 weeks prior to a scheduled trial date, and we should expect more from criminal defense attorneys. Finally, the lawyer that takes on criminal defense clients in a tenuous financial position should be treated as having taken a business risk. The lawyer wanted the short-term more for their practice on the front end of the case, and they should be required to endure the long-term consequences of the gamble they took.
Criminal defense lawyers should seriously consider whether the damage done to their reputation by withdrawing very late in a case is worth the relief from having to do a little work in a case in which (presumably) most of the work was already done. If as much time were spent preparing cases for trial as is spent preparing notices of intent to withdraw and motions to withdraw, I think most of these cases could be completed and everyone would walk away with a little better taste in their mouth.
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