November 23, 2013

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.

November 21, 2013

Do I Need an Attorney for my Divorce?

When going through difficult and trying times such as considering a possible Divorce, many questions and concerns come to mind. One of the most common questions our potential clients ask is, “Do I need an attorney?”

Arizona law allows for applicants in civil cases to represent themselves. However, a divorce is often very stressful and emotional. An attorney will guide you through the process and provide you with realistic expectations. Even when you are self-represented (“pro se,”) you must abide by the same procedural rules taught to lawyers in law school. Though hiring an attorney may seem expensive, an attorney can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. If your spouse has hired an attorney, you are at a disadvantage when representing yourself. An attorney can tell you what your rights and expectations should be regarding spousal maintenance (“alimony”), child support, parenting time, and the division of your assets.

With an attorney from The Carroll Law Firm by your side, we can help you through the complexity of the Divorce and also ensure that your goals are met. Our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in the family law arena. If you would like additional information or are interested in speaking with one of our experienced attorneys, please feel free to contact The Carroll Law Firm at (623) 551-9366 to schedule a free initial consultation. 

November 20, 2013

How does a Short Sale or Foreclosure Impact Your Credit?

As you may know, a short sale or foreclosure can negatively impact your credit score and delay your ability to obtain financing for a new home loan. Arizona is an anti-deficiency state, though, meaning that a lender generally can’t sue you for a deficiency on your loan after a short sale or foreclosure. Furthermore, the Arizona Supreme Court has held that a borrower has no personal liability for a loan if the anti-deficiency law applies. Baker v. Gardner, 160 Ariz. 98, 770 P.2d 766 (1988). This limits the way your lender can report your short sale or foreclosure to the credit reporting agencies. Please call The Carroll Law Firm to discuss how your short sale or foreclosure is listed on your credit report and to explore options for quickly restoring your credit following a short sale or foreclosure.

November 19, 2013

Exception for Employer-Owned Vehicles No Longer Applies With Regard to Ignition Interlock Devices

In most circumstances, a person convicted of a DUI in Arizona cannot drive a motor vehicle without a functioning certified ignition interlock device for at least 12 months. Prior to September 13, 2013, a person required to install an interlock device in their vehicle could drive their employer-owned vehicle(s) in the course and scope of their employment without an interlock device as long as they had proof that they notified their employer of any driving restrictions they had as a result of their DUI conviction. As of September 13, however, the exception for employer-owned vehicles no longer applies. Now, if you’re convicted of a DUI, an interlock device must be installed in any company vehicle you drive. It does not appear that employers must comply with this requirement, meaning your job may be in jeopardy if you are convicted of a DUI.  

If you are charged with a DUI offense, you face a number of possible consequences: jail time, fees and fines, driving restrictions, and more. An attorney can help you navigate through this process and discuss the alternatives available to you each step of the way. If you would like to speak with one of the attorneys at the Carroll Law Firm, please call our office at (623)551-9366.

November 14, 2013

Don’t Wait until the New Year to Start your Resolutions

Attorneys often hear the phrase, “I hope I never need an attorney” or “I hope I never need your services.” Society often associates a law firm’s services and the need for an attorney as only being for when negative situations have arisen. There are many reasons to visit an attorney’s office, not only for negative situations in life. Many people take on new life adventures such as starting a new business, getting married, or starting a family, and could use the services of an attorney. Do not wait until the New Year to start your resolutions, and get a head start on your adventures. Continue reading