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Rule 1.16. Decliningor terminating representation.

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall notrepresent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw fromthe representation of a client if:

(a)(1) the representation will result in violation of therules of professional conduct or other law;

(a)(2) the lawyer?s physical or mental condition materiallyimpairs the lawyer?s ability to represent the client; or

(a)(3) the lawyer is discharged.

(b) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer may withdrawfrom representing a client if:

(b)(1) withdrawal can be accomplished without materialadverse effect on the interests of the client ;

(b)(2) the client persists in a course of action involvingthe lawyer?s services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal orfraudulent;

(b)(3) the client has used the lawyer?s services toperpetrate a crime or fraud;

(b)(4) the client insists upon taking action that the lawyerconsiders repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement;

(b)(5) the client fails substantially to fulfill anobligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer's services and has been givenreasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation isfulfilled;

(b)(6) the representation will result in an unreasonablefinancial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult bythe client; or

(b)(7) other good cause for withdrawal exists.

(c) A lawyer must comply with applicable law requiringnotice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation. Whenordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representationnotwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.

(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall takesteps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client?s interests,such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment ofother counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitledand refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned orincurred. The lawyer must provide, upon request, the client's file to theclient. The lawyer may reproduce and retain copies of the client file at thelawyer's expense.


[1] A lawyer should not accept representation in a matterunless it can be performed competently, promptly, without improper conflict ofinterest and to completion. Ordinarily, a representation in a matter iscompleted when the agreed upon assistance has been concluded. See Rules 1.2(c)and 6.5. See also Rule 1.3, Comment 4.

Mandatory Withdrawal

[2] A lawyer ordinarily must decline or withdraw fromrepresentation if the client demands that the lawyer engage in conduct that isillegal or violates the rules of professional conduct or other law. The lawyeris not obliged to decline or withdraw simply because the client suggests such acourse of conduct; a client may make such a suggestion in the hope that alawyer will not be constrained by a professional obligation.

[3] When a lawyer has been appointed to represent a client,withdrawal ordinarily requires approval of the appointing authority. See alsoRule 6.2. Similarly, court approval or notice to the court is often required byapplicable law before a lawyer withdraws from pending litigation. Difficultymay be encountered if withdrawal is based on the client?s demand that thelawyer engage in unprofessional conduct. The court may request an explanationfor the withdrawal, while the lawyer may be bound to keep confidential thefacts that would constitute such an explanation. The lawyer?s statement thatprofessional considerations require termination of the representationordinarily should be accepted as sufficient. Lawyers should be mindful of theirobligations to both clients and the court under Rules 1.6 and 3.3.


[4] A client has a right to discharge a lawyer at any time,with or without cause, subject to liability for payment for the lawyer?sservices. Where future dispute about the withdrawal may be anticipated, it maybe advisable to prepare a written statement reciting the circumstances.

[5] Whether a client can discharge appointed counsel maydepend on applicable law. A client seeking to do so should be given a fullexplanation of the consequences. These consequences may include a decision bythe appointing authority that appointment of successor counsel is unjustified,thus requiring self representation by the client.

[6] If the client has severely diminished capacity, theclient may lack the legal capacity to discharge the lawyer, and in any eventthe discharge may be seriously adverse to the client?s interests. The lawyershould make special effort to help the client consider the consequences and maytake reasonably necessary protective action as provided in Rule 1.14.

Optional Withdrawal

[7] A lawyer may withdraw from representation in somecircumstances. The lawyer has the option to withdraw if it can be accomplishedwithout material adverse effect on the client?s interests. Withdrawal is alsojustified if the client persists in a course of action that the lawyerreasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent, for a lawyer is not required tobe associated with such conduct even if the lawyer does not further it.Withdrawal is also permitted if the lawyer's services were misused in the pasteven if that would materially prejudice the client. The lawyer may alsowithdraw where the client insists on taking action that the lawyer considersrepugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement.

[8] A lawyer may withdraw if the client refuses to abide bythe terms of an agreement relating to the representation, such as an agreementconcerning fees or court costs or an agreement limiting the objectives of therepresentation.

Assisting the Client upon Withdrawal

[9] Even if the lawyer has been unfairly discharged by theclient, a lawyer must take all reasonable steps to mitigate the consequences tothe client. See Rule 1.15. Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shallprovide, upon request, the client?s file to the client notwithstanding anyother law, including attorney lien laws. It is impossible to set forth one allencompassing definition of what constitutes the client file. However, theclient file generally would include the following: all papers and property theclient provides to the lawyer; litigation materials such as pleadings, motions,discovery, and legal memoranda; all correspondence; depositions; expertopinions; business records; exhibits or potential evidence; and witnessstatements. The client file generally would not include the following: thelawyer's work product such as recorded mental impressions; research notes;legal theories; internal memoranda; and unfiled pleadings. The Utah rulediffers from the ABA Model Rule in requiring that papers and propertyconsidered to be part of the client?s file be returned to the clientnotwithstanding any other laws or fees or expenses owing to the lawyer.