Lawyers Break Down The Moment They Actually Said 'F*** It, You're On Your Own' To A Client
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Ideally, lawyers would like to see the cases they take on through to the end. Ideally, things don't get too messy, but they're bound to get messy, because nothing is simple when you're dealing with courts and the legal bureaucracy. Things get significantly more complicated when they're dealing with clients who won't listen to or abide by their advice.

After Redditor MeLikeFood10 asked the online community, "Lawyers of Reddit, is there a time when you said, 'F*** it, you're on your own!' to a client?" people shared stories about the clients whose cases they had to abandon.

"So one time, I was appointed..."

So one time I was appointed to represent a guy who was having a trial for adjudication in a dependency case. He wasn't at fault for the removal of his children and was f****** pissed off that he had to be party to the case (it's the law), so he's yelled at me for several weeks about this and I've simply said "I can't do s*** about it man it's the law." So he threatens to fire me and I say go for it. He rescinds. Repeat. This happens a few times.

So we get to court and the judge comes in and says any issues to go over before we start?

My guy stands up and says, "I want to fire my lawyer because he's not gonna help me!"

The judge looks at me and asks if that's true and I said, "No, Mr. X is angry that he's a party to this case because Ms. X is the offender. He doesn't believe me when I say that it's simply the law."

Judge asks him and he agrees and says he doesn't think he can trust me to represent his interests.

So the judge lets me go, I close my folio and hand him the file, ask to be withdrawn, it's granted, and I turn and head for the door. As I'm walking out the judge says, "Ok Mr. X, who's your first witness?"

X gets mad and yells about needing an attorney to which the judge replies, "You're allowed appointed counsel and you fired him, we're still going forward. Who's the first witness?"

I couldn't see it but I know that I was smiling in 5D.


Can't blame this lawyer.

That's a brilliant story––with some excellent comeuppance!

"He insisted it would be simple..."

I had a client come to me to do his will. He insisted it would be simple because he never married or had kids. I met with him as usual and went through everything he needed in his will and I explained my hourly rate and how long a will usually took to draft and sign. He came back in a few weeks, signed his will, happily paid his bill, and left.

I should point out two things at this point: 1) this guy was very rich and 2) he could not name a single friend who he trusted to be a backup executor.

As soon as he got home he immediately wrote a long ranting email to my boss. He claimed he had been massively overcharged for his will. He said he had only spent half an hour in my office so he should only have to pay for half an hour and that there was no reason he should be paying for my time. He would go to the law society etc. etc.

My boss called him and told him to bring in all of his will and power of attorney documents and he would issue him a refund.

The conversation went like this:

Boss: I don't have time to deal with petty garbage like this. This is a document stating that you are willingly destroying your will and POAs. Sign it and I'll give you this check for all your fees back.

Client: This isn't a petty issue to me.

Boss: This is a petty issue to everybody.

Client: I'll tell all my friends and family never to work with you.

Boss: Good. I don't want to work with your friends, I don't want to work with your family, I don't want to work with anyone who cares what you think of me. Luckily, I don't think that will be a problem. Go find another lawyer.

So the guy signed the document and my boss dragged the shredder out into the middle of the lobby and shredded all of his documents in front of him and then went back to his office. The guy slunk out and never contacted us again.


"Keep in mind..."

I generally only handle serious injury and wrongful death cases. I have told dozens of clients to pack their bags once I determine they lied to me about what happened. Most of these liars admitted it to me in a way that indicated they thought the entire process was a game of be-the-best-liar: "They're gonna lie, so I'm gonna lie."

You never, ever, no matter the weather, ever ever want a serious injury client with a credibility problem. We regularly put 6 figures in expenses and time into these cases and I'm not about to do that if we have a liar for a client.

Keep in mind, I am talking about lying about important facts, and not the "this is what I remember," when it turns out inconsistent with the physical evidence. I'm not talking about "I didn't mention this yesterday because I was embarrassed." I'm not even talking about "I didn't tell you I have been double filling my oxygen script (this was a decade ago, can't do that anymore) because I knew it was wrong." Just lies about what happened.


"Dad never did."

I had a custody case one time where I was representing the mother pro bono. The lawyer on the other side was representing the father pro bono as well. And let me tell you about these two. Mother was in her early 20s and her income was from a part-time job at Walmart and government benefits. She never finished school and live at her dad's house who himself was not working and living off the government dime. She was missing half her teeth and her overall hygiene was horrendous. After meeting her it blew my mind that someone would feel comfortable enough to have unprotected sex with her.

Until I met the father. He was also in his early 20s and didn't finish school. He had a marked speech impediment. Mom told me he has some kind of mental health diagnosis with the word "explosive" in it and described how violent he could be. He was certainly no looker. For income, he too was on government assistance, but his Facebook was replete with get rich quick schemes which clearly never panned out. He was alleged to be selling marijuana as well to supplement his income.

Well, dad has other kids with other women in other parts of the state. And he is WAY behind on child support payments. So he gets scheduled for a contempt hearing for failure to pay. He asks his pro bono custody lawyer about the contempt hearing, and the lawyer reminds him that he's only his custody lawyer and that he doesn't represent him in any other matters. So the day of the hearing comes and dad goes to court without a lawyer. It doesn't go well for him so he decides to blast his custody lawyer on Facebook for "screwing him over" in his support case. He also decided to call his lawyer afterward to b!tch him out but the lawyer wasn't in the office so he spoke to the lawyer's secretary.

We were scheduled for a custody trial the next day, it had been on the books for months. I get a call from dad's lawyer stating he's filing an emergency motion to withdraw and postpone the trial and was seeking my concurrence on the motion. Apparently, dad threatened to kill his lawyer's secretary during his rant to her.

We have an emergency hearing that afternoon with the judge and Dad's attorney tells the judge what happened. I tell the judge I have absolutely no objection to his lawyer withdrawing. Motion granted, trial rescheduled for 3 months later.

I don't know what was said to dad by his lawyer, but I hope it was "F*** you, you are on your own."

PS three months later he didn't show up for his rescheduled custody trial because he was again behind on child support, this time in another county, and they threw him in jail. I told the judge that's why dad wasn't there and the judge wanted to reschedule the trial. I reminded the judge about what happened three months prior and the judge changed his mind, he dismissed the custody case (which kept the kid with mom which is what she wanted) but in his dismissal order said dad had 30 days after he was released from jail to request a custody trial. Dad never did.


This was a JOURNEY.

People like this exist, sad to say. Our condolences to anyone who has to deal with them.

"My most recent one was a favor..."

My most recent one was a favor for a friend. I agreed to take on his buddy's case - immigration law/deportation case - had a call with the guy told him I would send him the retainer via email. Sent him multiple emails/left voicemail and the guy never responds. I'm thinking he got another lawyer - fast forward six months and we're both at the mutual friend's house for a bbq. He comes up to me to ask me what the status of his case is. So again I tell him he needs to sign the paperwork and respond to my emails, we need to set up some time to talk etc. I haven't heard from the guy since. His daughter sent me an email a couple of weeks ago to see how her dad's case is going. I'm not going to magically put together a case for him out of thin air - f*** it, he's on his own.



Sorry, dude. Better luck next time.


Our office represented a man with a very implausible story that he wanted to use as a defense to his drugged driving charges. He proceeded to miss court several times and show up apparently intoxicated. This dragged on forever as he was marked on to the trial calendar, then took a deal for a few months of probation with the possibility of having a clean record if he succeeded. At the last court appearance, it wound up being unclear if he had met all the requirements or not. While I was in the middle of arguing with the judge that he should get the benefit of the deal, he got frustrated and said he wanted to fire me because we had never told his side of the story. He proceeded to tell his ridiculous story to the judge, who proceeded to tell him it was completely unbelievable and sentenced him to three years of probation with a criminal conviction.

Normally I would try to stop a client from saying stupid stuff, but sometimes I let them because it insulates me from them later making a claim that I didn't make the arguments they wanted me to.


This sounds like a good strategy.

Some people will simply dig a hole for themselves.

"Client wanted me to lie..."

Sure. Client wanted me to lie to get an unfair economic advantage, and that's against the deontological code where I practice.

I didn't say "f*** it" but I told him to go to a different lawyer. In my jurisdiction, you can drop a client whenever and for whatever reason, you just have to make sure he has the necessary legal assistance in the immediate future if there are deadlines or hearings upcoming.


"A client..."

Yes. A client, after I specifically told him not to, farted on my leg in the middle of court. He got 10 years and got out in 8 for good behavior.


He should have listened.

Easier said than done, though.

"I first provided a detailed estimate..."


I sent numerous detailed letters explaining that this is not an overnight deal, that litigation takes time. I first provided a detailed estimate of how long this would take based on my lengthy experience. When the court set a formal schedule, I sent another letter saying (in very professional and diplomatic terms) "see? My estimate of how long this will take was spot on - here's an order from the judge setting the same schedule I predicted."

Regardless, I kept getting phone calls all the time asking "is it settled yet? Is it settled YET?!" and offering suggestions that, well, these suggestions were so ridiculous that if they had come from a young associate attorney, I'd have to wonder if I could continue to employ that attorney.

The last straw was in yet another of those "Is it settled yet? Why isn't it settled yet? Let me give you some suggestions about how to settle this" calls when I got a "You do know what you're doing, right? This isn't your first case is it?!"

I prepared a sternly worded but quite diplomatic and professional letter saying, "You either need to shut the f*** up and listen to me or you need to f*** off and find someone else."



...sometimes you just gotta do what you've gotta do. It's the only way some people learn.

"I have let clients go..."

A client can be "fired" for many different reasons depending on the jurisdiction. I have let clients go if they are committing crimes WHILE I am representing them.


We don't envy the lawyers who've had to deal with clients like these.

Unfortunately, these are the types of people who try to bog down the court system and make dealing with it such an unpleasant experience.

Have some of your own stories to share? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!

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