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Holmes v. Y.J.A. Realty Corp. - 128 A.D.2d 482, 513 N.Y.S.2d 415 (App. Div. 1987)

Rule:

Where a client repudiates a reasonable fee arrangement there is no obligation on the part of counsel to finance the litigation or render gratuitous services.

Facts:

Appellant Holmes is a lawyer who was retained to defend clients in a premises liability action. A written retainer agreement was executed when attorney was hired that provided that attorney's legal fees would be billed periodically. However, no payment was made to the account within the five-month billing period prompting him to move to withdraw as counsel. The trial court denied his motion and he sought review.

Issue:

Does retained counsel have an obligation to render continued legal services despite non-payment of his fees?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court reversed the decision and granted attorney's motion to withdraw because attorney established that the clients had rendered it unreasonably difficult for attorney to carry out his employment and had deliberately disregarded their obligation to pay attorney's fees.

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