Ending the Lawyer-Client Relationship
Right to terminate
A client may terminate the lawyer-client relationship at any time, without cause. A lawyer, however, may require cause to terminate the relationship, depending on the timing of the withdrawal and the impact on the client’s interests; see rules 3.7-1, 3.7-3, and 3.7-4 of the Code of Conduct. Of course, a retainer may come to an end when the lawyer has completed the work that was contracted for.
Closing the file
When you have completed work on the file, and resolved outstanding accounts, you should send the client a final reporting letter. A model letter is available for download on The Law Society website. The final reporting letter allows the client to know that the retainer is over, and what (if anything) remains to be done. Using the earlier example of being retained to obtain default judgment, a final reporting letter can confirm the result, and remind the client that they will have to take steps to collect on the judgment.
Using a model client survey can help you track the efficacy of your communication with your clients. It can also be a useful tool to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your practice. You could provide the survey to your clients at the beginning of the retainer and ask them to complete it at the end of the mandate. This approach lets your clients know that you are interested in communicating effectively with them and that you value their feedback. It might also allow the client to alert you to areas of concern earlier in the relationship.