A, B and C ate members of a law partnership. Among their clients is one X, A withdraws from the firm at a time when X’s matter is still pending and he has already paid them a retainer on account of his fee, the amount of which has not been determined, but which retainer represents adequate compensation for the services rendered by the firm up to the time of its reorganization resulting from A’s withdrawal The understanding reached by the three partners is that the two remaining ones will continue to represent all their current clients, subject, of course, to the clients’ consent. X, however, refuses to go along with B and C. He desires to retain another lawyer, D, but would like to have A act as his counsel in this case and to handle the litigation end of it, which will concededly take up a great deal of time and effort. The reason he wants A to act as his counsel is that A has done almost all the work in the matter, up to the time of his withdrawal from the firm and is more conversant with it than anyone else.
Both A and D are agreeable to have A act as counsel to D. Accordingly D requests B and C to sign a stipulation substituting him in their place and stead, which the client has already signed. B & C refuse to sign the stipulation unless A gives them a written statement that they will share in any fee which he, A, receives from X for services, which A renders, B & C would have no functions to perform and no responsibility to share. A, in order not to delay the substitution because of the pressure of time and the necessity to meet a in perfecting an appeal, gives B & C such a statement in writing.
It would be improper for B & C, under the circumstances, to share in A’s fee. DR 2-107; Canon 34, Code, New York City Bar Association Opinions No. 459.
Since the Committee does not pass on questions of law, it expresses no opinion as to the steps A should take in order to be relieved of his undertaking.
October 21, 1970