What began as a fight to recover allegedly stolen property on behalf of a client morphed into a separate legal malpractice battle for Alexander Law Firm in Atlanta after its client allegedly stopped answering the phone and instead retained different counsel.

But when firm owner Herald Alexander sought to block the newly hired lawyers from representing the former client— Curtis Richburg and his brother, James—in the consequential breach of fiduciary duty suit, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick dismissed his motion to disqualify counsel for an abuse of discretion.