Attorney-at-Law

CHECKING OUT

In Uncategorized on 09/03/2019 at 15:04

Judge Buch has a refresher for attorneys who want to check out of a case. Nicholas W. Buruse & Lynn Medalia-Buruse, Docket No. 22579-18, filed 9/3/19, are on for trial in December.

Their erstwhile attorney files a Rule 24 check-out motion, wherein she states “”Petitioners wereinformed [sic] of Counsel of Record’s wish to withdraw as counsel for at least 3 months.” Order, at p. 1. (Edit by the Court).

Well, I’m sure my readers know that the checker-out has to state what the petitioners, who after all are the clients, want. And whether IRS is on board. And it doesn’t suffice that the petitioners have gone to the bullpen. “Counsel also informs the Court that ;’Petitioners engaged the services of J. David Tax Law, LLC’ – but attorneys enter appearances in the Tax Court, not law firms.” Order, at p. 1.

I’ve noticed this anomaly before. See, e.g., (as my expensive colleagues say) my blogpost “Admitted but not Recognized,” 4/16/19. If the attorney named in the Entry of Appearance is actually on trial elsewhere, or is on parental leave, or is sick, on the day a motion is to be argued or the calendar to be called, the colleague who shows up to cover must file a separate Entry of Appearance and promptly withdraw, after going through the consent rigmarole, lest s/he be served with papers his/her absent colleague should be getting. Makes no sense.

Howbeit, Judge Buch has the right approach here.

“The Model Rules require the attorney to notify the client that he or she is leaving the firm and keep the client informed of the status of her case. The client must be informed that he or she may continue to employ the attorney or to remain with the firm, but it is the client’s choice. Both the departing attorney and those who remain in the firm have an obligation to assure that their representation is not adversely affected by an attorney’s departure and that the departure is accomplished without material adverse effect on any client’s interest. Even then, ‘[a] lawyer must comply with applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation. When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.’” Order, at pp. 1-2. (Citations omitted, but the Model Rules are online and the citations easily found.)

See my blogpost “A Bad Day for Lawyers,” 12/11/14, where I discuss what happens when a lawyer leaves a firm and the Rules are disregarded. I hope heads did roll in that case.

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