Fort Worth, TX asked in Divorce and Family Law for Texas

Q: How do I get my attorney removed from my case if their law office is no longer in existence?

I hired a law firm in 2021 for an uncontested divorce. Since then they have scammed me out of 10,000$ and have made zero progress on my case. About 6 months ago we were told that the law firm is no longer in operation. I cannot get ahold of them or anyone from the firm.

I am wanting to go forward with the divorce representing myself, however in order to do that I have to have a motion to withdraw counsel (according to the district clerks office), but I cannot figure out how to do that. I’ve sent the (defunct) law firm a certified letter, as well as written and filed letters and evidence to the clerks office in order to have a judge remove them from the case. I have gotten the run around from multiple people, and I simply need to know what I need to do as an individual to officially withdraw my counsel from the case so that I can go forward as my own representation. Any help is appreciated. I am located in Texas.

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: 1. Identify the individual lawyer or lawyers who have appeared in your case. Typically, they are listed by name with the State Bar numbers in the signature block of each pleading filed in your pending case.

2. Go to the State Bar of Texas website and look them up to determine current contact information. There is a "Find a Lawyer" search feature on the home page of the website. Leave the "Law Firm / Organization Name" field blank. Licensed attorneys can update this information anytime and are required to verify this information annually.

3. Send a letter to the individual lawyer using the contact information asking them to either contact you about your case or to file a motion to withdraw in the pending proceeding. I suggest using some form of delivery which will provide you delivery confirmation like certified mail or FedEx, etc.

4. If you do not hear back from the lawyer and they do not file a motion to withdraw within 10-14 days after delivery of your letter, file a grievance with the State Bar against the individual lawyer(s). You will find instructions how to do this on the State Bar of Texas website. Hover your cursor over the tab "For the Public" and select "Watch How to File a Grievance" from the dropdown menu. In your grievance, state that your lawyers have neglected your divorce case, have failed to respond to your requests for information about your case, and have failed to withdraw from your case after being asked by you to do so. You can explain the circumstances described in your question above as well. It is highly likely this will prompt those individual attorneys to withdraw from your divorce proceeding.

You might also consider hiring another lawyer to file a motion for substitution of counsel.

Our Texas Rules of Civil Procedure put the onus on the attorney to file a motion to withdraw because the attorney owes fiduciary duties to the client. Rule 10 has very specific requirements for a motion to withdraw, and local rules often impose additional requirements. These rules are carefully designed to protect clients like you. Until an order is entered by a court allowing your attorney to withdraw, the attorney is legally responsible for actions and inactions which might impact you and your case.

Unfortunately, there is not a procedure in civil court for a client to file what would be in essence a motion to fire their own attorney. Texas also does not allow a litigant represented by an attorney to file her own pleadings on her own behalf. You may either represent yourself OR have an attorney represent you--not both.

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