Rule 1.16 Applied to Grant Motion to Withdraw of Counsel

In my regular ethics column for The Bencher, the national publication of The American Inns of Court, in the current issue, I write here about a recent decision of the Rhode Island Supreme Court which granted a motion to withdraw of counsel due to non-payment of fees. The decision was based on Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16 as well as related case law, and overturned a trial court decision denying the motion due to an imminent trial date. This ruling is music to the ears of lawyers who prefer not to work involuntarily for free, especially when that decision is made retroactively by the client, without consulting the attorney–unlike pro bono cases in which an attorney chooses prospectively and voluntarily to work for free at the beginning of a matter.