Client's Right to Terminate Services

A client may terminate the lawyer-client relationship at any time. There are no rules about how a client may terminate a retainer, but written notice is best to avoid misunderstandings that may arise. For example, if a client tells you they are firing you, there may be potential liability issues if you or the client continue to conduct yourselves as if the retainer is ongoing. You may want to state in the Retainer Agreement that the client must provide you with written notice should they wish to terminate the retainer. However, not all clients may be in a position to do so. For example, clients in custody may not be able to provide written notice. You should consider whether asking clients to provide written notice is appropriate in each case.

If a client cannot or does not provide written notice, it is advisable to write to the client confirming your understanding that they have terminated your services. Doing so provides clarity for the record and may help you avoid later complaints or allegations that you failed to properly represent the client or take steps in their matter after you understood the retainer to have ended. 

For tips on drafting or revising your Retainer Letter, see the Interactive Retainer Letter Guide available on the Law Society’s website.

Last modified: Tuesday, 22 August 2023, 1:48 PM