Unpaid Legal Bills Grounds for Withdrawal - Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. of New York v. Intercounty National Title Insurance Co., et al

February 28, 2003
Corporate Legal Times, February, 2003 SECTION: 7TH CIRCUIT; Pg. 58
PAY YOUR legal bills or take the chance of being left in the cold without counsel, even in the midst of litigation.  That's the lesson of a recent 7th circuit decision in which Chicago-based Cherry & Associates was permitted to withdraw as counsel after its clients failed to pay legal bills totaling more than $ 400,000. The firm was representing Intercounty, an insurance company, in a dispute with its reinsurer over the alleged looting of escrow funds. In finding that a lower court judge had abused her discretion by not allowing the Cherry firm to withdraw, Judge Frank H. Easterbrook held in November 2002 that lawyers cannot be forced to work for free in a civil case when they have tried every other avenue and complied with all relevant rules. Cherry's clients in this matter had signed a fee agreement permitting the firm to withdraw from the case if it was not paid its fees. The firm also had gone to great lengths to guide the litigation to a point where it would not be disrupted by its withdrawal. "This case was unusual in its circumstances, but not in its principle," says William H. Prout Jr. of Wiggin & Dana in New Haven, Conn.
Find the complete article in the February 2003 issue of Corporate Legal Times.