Olympics 2014

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Like all Olympics, Sochi has had its share of memorable, and controversial, moments:  the yogurt flap;  Russia’s disallowed goal leading to a US hockey victory;  Adelina Sotnikova’s upset figure skating win; the fact that it’s warmer in Sochi than in Florida.  Even the sports themselves are controversial; according to my 11 year-old son, if sledding is an Olympic sport, why not award medals for best snowman?  And my eighth-grader has figured out how to make varsity in her freshman year of high school — start a curling team.

Even if you haven’t been following the Olympics, you likely are aware of the controversy surrounding NBC reporter Christin Cooper’s interview of US medal winner Bode Miller.  Cooper was criticized for pushing things a bit too far in her questions about the death last year of Miller’s brother.  Even after Miller teared up, Cooper kept going; by the end, Miller was sobbing, crouched in a ball.

While Cooper was under no obligation to stop her questioning, she might have been well-advised to withdraw sooner (though Miller apparently has no hard feelings).  It’s an issue that lawyers face as well.  While lawyers of course owe a duty of loyalty to their clients, there are some circumstances where withdrawing from a matter is the wisest, or even only, course.

Failing to withdraw can have some pretty serious consequences — a claim against the lawyer and the firm; unpaid fees; even discipline.  So when should you be thinking about withdrawing from a representation? Here are some red flags to look for:

*Client’s A/R is growing and, despite promises to pay, nothing has come in.
*Client ignores your advice and insists on pursuing a course that you believe is unwise.
*Client is repeatedly complaining about the bills, your work, and everything else.
*Joint clients disagree on a course of action or have otherwise are otherwise in dispute.
*Client is engaging in activity that we think may be questionable.

While no one wants to let a client go, in the long run, you may be very happy you did.  And while those reporting on the Olympics don’t face quite the same issues, they may be well-advised to follow the example of Patrick Warburton in his interview of luge hopeful James Gilbert.