The National Law Journal has a story concerning a lawyer named Jerome Marcus, who filed a motion to withdraw in one of the Trump-related election lawsuits. Marcus alleged that the client “used the lawyer’s services to perpetrate a crime.” I am not a fan of the noisy withdrawal motion where the lawyer reveals some confidences to justify his decision to withdraw.
At the hearing on this motion, the judge could ask Mr. Marcus what the alleged crime was and what his role was in the alleged crime. That would then put Mr. Marcus in a bind. Does he reveal the confidence of a client? Does he withdraw the motion?
Instead I recommend that a lawyer simply state in the motion to withdraw that there is an irreconcilable conflict with the client. Some lawyers believe that the lawyer can offer to discuss the matter with the court in camera. I don’t recommend making such an offer. Instead, withdraw and do not disclose any confidences. Rule 1.6, which governs the lawyer’s obligation to keep client confidences, does not authorize the lawyer to reveal client confidences on an in camera basis.
Should you have an ethics question or issue, do not hesitate to call me. I have 29 years experience and have dealt with many difficult situations. It is often better to discuss an issue with another lawyer who is not as close to the situation as you are before you take some action that could prejudice a client.
Ed Clinton, Jr.