Promise to make initial disclosures not enough to prevent withdrawal: Jo Ann Howard & Assoc v. Cassity (E.D. Mo.)

Your opposing counsel moves to withdraw, and they still owe you the initial disclosures they promised to provide. Can you keep them on the case until they provide those initial disclosures?

In Jo Ann Howard and Associates, P.C. v. Cassity, 2012 WL 229316 (E.D.Mo. Jan. 25, 2012), the Eastern District of Missouri answered the question no. To reach this conclusion, the District Court undertakes a three-stage analysis, which provides a nice framework for other lawyers seeking to withdraw or challenge a withdrawal.

*    First, it determined the withdrawal is appropriate under the applicable ethics rules. The client was unable to pay the attorney. This is a valid basis to withdraw under Mo. S. Ct. Rule 4-1.16(b)(5).

*    Second, the court determined that the withdrawal would not cause undue disruption of the litigation, because the case was stayed pending a parallel criminal prosecution.

Ordinarily this would end a withdrawal analysis. Here, however, opposing asked for the promised initial disclosures before withdrawal was granted. The District Court found no reason to keep the withdrawing firm in to provide the initial disclosures, however, because such work would cause the law firm to expend additional resources without pay and the pro se defendant would still have an obligation to make his initial disclosures.