What Duties does Your Attorney Owe You?

So, you’ve hired an attorney. You’ve met with him or her one or more times, discussed the merits of your legal issue as well as how best to proceed with your case. The next step will likely involve the attorney asking you to sign a “retainer” or “fee agreement.” Typically these agreements outline the lawyer’s scope of representation and fee structure, and a good retainer agreement should give you an idea of the lawyer’s role in your case and what exactly his or her representation will entail.

 What many retainer agreements are silent on is the set of responsibilities that an attorney owes to you as a client. Like any profession, lawyers are subject to a wide array of rules and regulations concerning their behavior and conduct, and amongst those rules are a set of basic obligations owed to clients. So while the retainer agreement you’re asked to sign may have some express provisions, attorneys owe clients the following duties:

1.      Your attorney must treat your case with competence and care. Your attorney must possess the legal knowledge, thoroughness and skill to provide you with competent representation, and must make all necessary reasonable preparations.

2.   Your attorney must act with reasonable diligence and promptness in his or her representation. An attorney must also control his or her workload so that matters can be handled competently.

3.     Your attorney must communicate with you. As your counsel, it is your attorney’s job to explain all matters to you to the extent reasonably necessary to permit you to make informed decisions in your case. Your attorney must promptly inform you of any decision or circumstances requiring your informed consent. They must consult with you regarding the objectives of your case and how to meet those objectives. They must keep you reasonably informed about the status of your case, reply to your requests for information and consult with you regarding any limitations that may be placed on their conduct.

4.     Your attorney has a duty to preserve all confidential information, and maintain the attorney-client privilege.

5.     Your attorney has a duty to protect your property. This duty extends to proper management of any funds you transfer into your attorneys possession; these funds must be properly managed and it is the duty of the attorney to provide proper record keeping.

6.    Your lawyer must exercise independent and professional judgment and render candid advice. In addition, while it is a lawyer’s job to act as counsel, they must ultimately abide by your decision concerning the objectives of representation and follow your instructions and wishes regarding settlement and other matters. Ultimately, you as the client have the final say in a legal matter, and it is the duty of the attorney to respect your decision.

Attorneys for The Carroll Law Firm are well aware of the duties we as attorneys owe to our clients and strive to meet their expectations in all areas of representation. We recognize the nuances of the attorney-client relationship and realize that our obligations as your attorney go above and beyond what may be listed on your fee agreement. If you ever have a question or concern about legal representation, please contact us at (623)551-9366.

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