United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL AND
EXTENDING THE DEADLINE TO RESPOND TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION
GREGORY B. WORMUTH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's
attorney's Second Motion to Withdraw as Counsel.
Docs. 13, 14. Attorney Rachel Berenson, having
remedied the procedural flaws of her prior motion, see
docs. 10, 12, moves the Court for permission to
withdraw as counsel for Plaintiff, citing “irreparable
damages within the attorney-client relationship.”
Doc. 14 at 1. Ms. Berenson indicates that Defendant
concurs in the instant Motion, but that Plaintiff Ibrahim
opposes it. Id. Ms. Berenson, in accordance with the
local rules, served a copy of her Motion on Plaintiff via
electronic mail on July 3, 2019, notifying Plaintiff that
objections must be served and filed within fourteen days from
the date of service of the motion. See id;
8, 2019, the Court received a letter from Plaintiff,
objecting to Ms. Berenson's motion to withdraw. Doc.
15. In her letter, Plaintiff asserts several substantive
objections to withdrawal. First, she explains that she is
currently deployed overseas as a military contractor across
the Middle East,  and that she will be adversely affected by
the withdrawal of Ms. Berenson during this deployment period,
which she has limited access to resources to seek new counsel
or address her case independently. Id. at 1. Second,
she notes that Ms. Berenson's withdrawal would be
prejudicial to her case, because Plaintiff would be unable to
address pending deadlines.Id. Finally, Plaintiff disputes
that her attorney-client relationship with Ms. Berenson has
suffered irreparable damage, contending that Ms. Berenson
merely seeks to withdraw because she was hired on a
contingency basis, and wanted Plaintiff to accept a quick
settlement offer that Plaintiff refused. Id. Ms.
Berenson has not filed a reply to the objections. The Motion
is now before the Court.
District Court has wide discretion in granting or denying an
attorney's motion to withdraw representation.”
Gamez v. Country Cottage Care & Rehab., 377
F.Supp.2d 1101, 1102 (D.N.M. 2005) (citing Abell v.
Babbit, 176 F.3d 488 (10th Cir. 1999) (unpublished table
decision)). However, “[w]ithdrawal grounded on personal
difficulties in the attorney-client
relationship…requires some scrutiny where
opposed[.]” Rehburg v. Bob Hubbard Horse Transp.
Inc., 2019 WL 1281857, at *4 (D.N.M. Mar. 20, 2019)
(slip copy). “[A]n attorney who has once agreed to
represent a client should not be permitted to abandon his
responsibilities merely because he is unhappy with the nature
of the relationship with the client.” Id.
(quoting Streetman v. Lynaugh, 674 F.Supp. 229, 235
(E.D. Tex. 1987)). In addition, “it is incumbent on the
court to ensure that the prosecution of the lawsuit is not
unduly disrupted by the withdrawal of counsel.”
Leaton v. Navajo Refinery, 2011 WL 13262486, at *2
(D.N.M. Feb. 24, 2011) (slip copy) (citation omitted).
Overall, “where it has not been shown that the
attorney-client relationship cannot be salvaged, and where
the impact of withdrawal upon the client may be severe,
withdrawal is not supported.” Rehburg, 2019 WL
1281857, at *5.
consideration of the foregoing, the Court finds that
withdrawal is not supported, here. Counsel's Motion
relies merely upon a conclusory allegation of irreparable
damage to the attorney-client relationship in the face of her
client's rebuttal and assertions of harm should
withdrawal be granted. Consequently, the Court is not
persuaded that the attorney-client relationship has suffered
irreparable damage and believes Plaintiff's concern-that
allowing Ms. Berenson to withdraw may leave Plaintiff without
the ability to competently prosecute her case-is legitimate.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's counsel's
Motion to Withdraw (docs. 13, 14) is
FURTHER ORDERED that the deadline to respond to
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (doc. 8) is
extended to August 2, 2019. Defendant's
Reply, if any, is due no later than August 16,
 Counsel appears to have filed multiple
identical motions to withdraw.
 See doc. 15 at 2 for letter
 Plaintiff will return to the United
States from deployment in December 2019. Doc. 15 at
 Plaintiff's Response to
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, doc. 8, was due
July 1, 2019. Ms. Berenson filed her first Motion to Withdraw
as attorney on June 26, 2019, less than a week before
Plaintiff's Response was due. Even though the Court
denied counsel's first motion to withdraw, as of the date
of this order, no Response to the Motion to Dismiss has been
filed. An attorney has an ethical obligation to provide
adequate representation until withdrawal of representation is
granted. Ms. Berenson's filing of a motion to withdraw
did not permit her to suspend working on Plaintiff's case
while that motion remained pending. See N.M.R.
Prof'l Conduct 16-116 (“a lawyer shall take steps
to the ...