Obligations upon Withdrawal from Representation – Paralegals

Posted: 01/19/2015

Amended rules of conductOn Oct. 1, 2014, amendments to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines reflecting the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code came into effect. This is the second of a series of articles to assist paralegals in understanding the amended rules. 

A paralegal’s duties to a client upon withdrawal from representation, either because the paralegal is discharged by the client or because the paralegal chooses to or must withdraw from representation, are set out under subrule 3.08 of the amended Paralegal Rules of Conduct.

Although a number of the requirements have remained the same, there are some new requirements about which paralegals should be aware.

New rule 3.08(11) requires reasonable notice to the client as a condition for withdrawal.

Rule 3.08(12) requires a paralegal to notify the client in writing upon withdrawal.

Generally, when you withdraw from representation, you must try to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to your client. You must do all that can reasonably be done to facilitate the orderly transfer of the matter to the successor legal practitioner.

Amended rule 3.08(11) and (12) state:

(11) Upon discharge or withdrawal, a paralegal shall:

a) deliver to the client or to the order of the client, all papers and property to which the client is entitled, (subject to the paralegal’s right to a lien);

b) subject to any applicable trust conditions, give the client all information that may be required in connection with the case or matter;

c) account for all funds of the client then held or previously dealt with, including the refunding of any monies not earned during the representation;

d) promptly render an account for outstanding fees and disbursements; and

e) cooperate with the successor licensee so as to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to the client; and

f) comply with the applicable rules of court.

 (12) In addition to the obligations set out in subrule (11), upon withdrawal, a paralegal shall notify the client in writing, stating:

i. the fact that the paralegal has withdrawn;

ii. the reasons, if any, for the withdrawal; and

iii. in the case of litigation, that the client should expect that the hearing or trial will proceed on the date scheduled and that the client should retain a new legal practitioner promptly.

If you are a member of a firm, your client shall be notified that both you and your firm are no longer acting for them.

Visit the New Rules of Conduct page for more information and additional resources.