The Attorney’s Duty to Communicate With Clients (Part 2)
Earlier this week, we took a look at the basic obligations attorneys face with regard to client communications in the context of legal representation.
Today, we’ll continue that discussion with an in-depth look at what attorneys are required to disclose with regard to the attorney-client relationship.
ATTORNEYS MUST INFORM CLIENTS OF ISSUES OR DEVELOPMENTS IMPACTING THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP
Attorneys have a basic duty to keep clients informed of relevant changes, developments and facts that impact the client’s case or legal matter. In addition, lawyers must keep clients up-to-date with regard to changes, developments, and facts that impact the attorney-client relationship.
Matters that fall within this duty include:
– Sending or providing the client with copies of relevant documents, including retainer agreements, settlement offers, and other legal documents applicable to the representation.
– Disclosure of the attorney’s personal or business relationships with third parties involved in the client’s matters or business dealings.
– Disclosure of any personal or professional interest the attorney may have in the outcome of the client’s case or the subject matter of the representation.
– Disclosure of any personal or professional relationship with the attorney for another party in the client’s litigation or transactional matter.
– Disclosure of any attorney fee-splitting arrangements.
– The obligation to disclose the sale (or purchase) of the attorney’s practice.
– If the attorney may be called as a witness in the client’s matter, this fact must also be disclosed to the client.
In addition to these duties, the attorney has a duty to clients who may have difficulties comprehending standard English communications. Often, this may include taking steps to ensure the client obtains an interpreter (where deafness or language ability is an issue) and/or parental assistance, in the case of minor clients.
NOT EVERY FACET OF THE ATTORNEY’S PRACTICE MUST BE DISCLOSED
The attorney need not disclose every facet of his or her legal practice to clients. In fact, much of an attorney’s practice is confidential and should not be disclosed to third-party clients.
Lawyers need not divulge the names on their client lists to other clients, except where conflicts of interest exist or with regard to third-party clients (individuals or entities) which are parties to, witnesses in, or interested parties with regard to the client’s legal matters or the outcome of the representation. Some conflicts of interest can be waived by the client, while others may impact the attorney’s ability to offer proper representation too significantly for a waiver. Each situation requires independent, individual evaluation based on the facts and circumstances.
Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an article like this one to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Legal claims against lawyers are a complicated topic. If you believe you have a claim against an attorney who failed to provide you with competent representation, consult an experienced malpractice lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your possible rights and claims.