It is the general rule in the United States, and New York that the client, either for good cause or for no cause, may terminate an attorney’s representation at any time. While the difference between “for cause” and “no cause” has been endlessly debated, a “for cause” termination may be based upon misconduct which does not rise to the level of attorney malpractice.

Where the discharge is for cause, the attorney has no right to compensation, regardless of the agreement between the attorney and the client. Traditional contract principles are not always applied to govern disputes between attorneys and clients. Where the discharge is for cause, the attorney has no right to compensation or a retaining lien. When discharged without good cause, compensation is measured by the fair and reasonable value of the services rendered whether that is more or less than the amount provided in the contract or retainer agreement. The attorney is limited to recovering in quantum meruit. The courts possess authority to supervise fees for legal services. Quantum meruit means, “as much as he deserved, premised upon an implied promise to pay as much as reasonable. Put in short, quantum meruit is the fair and reasonable value of the services rendered, which may be more or less than the amount provided in the contract or retainer agreement. It is determined by taking into consideration the character of the services, the nature and importance of the litigation, the degree of responsibility, the amount or value involved, the length of time spent, the ability, skill and experience required, the character, qualifications and standing of the attorney and the results achieved. The recovery is not limited to the amount billed or the original terms of the retainer agreement, and may be less or more than the amount, which might have been recovered under a contingency fee.

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.


Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.