Ending the Attorney-Client Relationship: Ethical and Fiduciary Duties

Best Practices to Avoid Ethics Violations and Malpractice Claims

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide attorneys and firms with a clear overview of the ethical considerations in terminating a client relationship in various select situations. The panel will outline post-termination obligations and best practices for smoothly concluding the attorney-client relationship.


Every attorney has had a difficult client they find they must "fire." When terminating the client relationship is clearly the only choice, the attorney and the firm face a challenging situation fraught with professional concerns, as well as legal and ethical risks.

Situations that can cause the attorney to terminate the client relationship include a client’s refusal to follow the attorney’s advice on serious matters such as responding to discovery; an unethical, hostile or abusive client; or a client who refuses to pay fees.

A difficult client is also more likely to respond by filing a disciplinary grievance or malpractice charge. So, to minimize ethics violations and malpractice risks, careful adherence to ethical rules of conduct and other practical considerations are critically important.

Listen as our authoritative panel of attorneys guides you through the complex ethical considerations when firing a client and offers best practices for avoiding ethics violations and malpractice claims.



  1. Termination of attorney by the client
  2. Termination because of attorney conflict of interest
  3. Termination under cloud of legal malpractice
  4. Terminating client for nonpayment of fees
  5. Terminating client for improper conduct
  6. Termination in connection with attorney’s departure from the firm


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What ethical rules govern specific trigger events for terminating the relationship — and when do attorneys have discretion to fire the client?
  • What should the termination notice to the client say and how much advanced notice should be provided to the client?
  • What are the attorney's continuing fiduciary duties to a client post-termination?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Kim M. Jackson
Kim M. Jackson

Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young

He defends attorneys and other professionals in malpractice claims, represents companies and professionals in various...  |  Read More

Michael P. Downey
Michael P. Downey

Armstrong Teasdale

An accomplished litigator, he advises law and accounting firms on legal, ethics and risk management issues and defends...  |  Read More

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