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Dodson Fogg looks at his client and says: “Come again?”
“This case is getting out of control. If the plaintiff gets his hands on those records, it’s all over. And I trust you realize what that means! Don’t forget how much money I have made you; how much money I can make you in the future!”
Dodson Fogg nods his head. While some might call his client a criminal, Dodson Fogg prefers to think of him as a man who inhabits a vast, gray land between right and wrong. Dodson Fogg realized long ago that there was lots of money to be made in that gray land, and his client has amply rewarded him for his understanding. Until now, Dodson Fogg had always managed to think of his client as an “entrepreneur.”
“So you are asking me to concoct some false accounting books, and disclose them?”
“No. The books are already made. I am merely asking you to hold them out as being the original records. We have the paper trail in order.”
Dodson Fogg sits quietly for a moment, searching his memory for a niggling concept. After a long silence he says: “What you’re asking me to do is wrong.”
“Right/wrong? These are moral absolutes, Fogg. Besides, it is the role of the judge to determine right from wrong, not the role of a lawyer. You are a hired gun—a very well compensated one at that. Now is not the time to trouble yourself with philosophical labels that mean everything in the classroom and nothing in the real world.”
Dodson Fogg thinks about what his client is saying. He thinks about his reputation as a pit-bull, and not without a certain amount of pride. He thinks about the 500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets that help him sleep at night. “All right, now look, I’m not saying I’ll go along with this, but give me the records to look over. If I am comfortable that they are watertight, I’ll think about it some more.”
After considering the matter further, Dodson Fogg recognizes that he cannot disclose false records. He asks his client to withdraw his instructions to hold out the “dummy” records as being original and his client refuses.
What should Dodson Fogg do or have done?
Choose one answer.
You have been dealing with a client who has caused you nothing but problems from day one, and until recently you have borne this difficult client with good grace.
About two months ago, the client stopped paying your bills, despite your written requests for payment. She has told you on a number of occasions that she doesn’t feel you are moving the matter along at a quick enough pace, and that she will pay you when she starts to see some “real” progress.
Your retainer agreement set out the scope of the work you were to perform, and there is much still to be done. The retainer agreement also indicated you would bill the client periodically, as work on the file reached $1,000 in billable time. Your billable time is now $3,000 in arrears. You did not mention a right to withdraw services for non-payment of fees in the retainer agreement.
Although there is more work for you to do, the “real” progress your client is waiting for before she will make further payments on account will not occur for at least three (and possibly more) months, when the Board she is seeking permission from convenes to discuss her proposal.
You have made up your mind that the client is more trouble than she is worth and decide to sever the relationship.
Is withdrawal optional or mandatory, and in either event, what steps should you take?
Choose one answer.