Understanding the Attorney-Client Relationship
When a client and attorney work together or even agree to work together, they establish a special relationship. Laws and ethical rules lay the groundwork for this relationship. While every attorney practicing in Pensacola is required to understand the rules that apply to attorney-client relationships, many clients have no idea what these mandates include.
As experienced Pensacola injury lawyers, we believe it is important for clients to know their rights in the relationship with their legal advisors. Although the full content of the rules is too great to explain fully, here are some of the basics.
Clients Have the Right to Competent Representation from Their Attorneys
Lawyers know the laws better than their clients, and Pensacola injury lawyers have a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in a personal injury case than most of their clients do. However, just because lawyers may have more knowledge does not give them the right to ignore clients’ concerns or treat clients with contempt.
Clients do not have to put up with negligent or incompetent representation. Attorneys are supposed to:
- Treat clients with courtesy
- Handle legal matters with basic competence and diligence
- Avoid conflict of interest situations
- Charge a reasonable fee and explain the fee to the client
- Keep clients informed about the progress in their cases
- Respect clients’ wishes with respect to settlement and other issues
- Conduct themselves in compliance with ethical requirements
The client is the boss in the relationship. If a client feels that their attorney is not living up to professional standards, the client has the right to fire that attorney, although there may be obligations to compensate the attorney for efforts put into the case up to that point. For instance, if an attorney was helping the victim of a car accident with serious injuries and the client ended the relationship and won a judgment while working with a new attorney, the new attorney may end up sharing part of the fee with the original attorney. The terms of the attorney-client agreement will usually address what will happen in that type of situation.
Confidentiality Between Attorney and Client
The attorney-client relationship in Pensacola involves a legal principle referred to as attorney-client privilege. When a lawyer and client engage in a professional client relationship, the information they share with each other is confidential. That means that another person—even another attorney—cannot usually compel one of them to disclose what they talked about. This privilege generally does not kick in unless both the parties to the conversation had an expectation that the matters they discussed were to be kept confidential. Moreover, the discussion must be part of providing legal services for the confidentiality provisions to apply.
Pensacola Injury Lawyers Can Answer Your Questions About the Attorney-Client Relationship
The complex rules governing attorney-client relationships in Pensacola are not always easy to understand. Clients really need to know that they have a lot of power in the relationship, and they should be the ones making critical decisions such as whether to accept a settlement.
If you have questions about how the relationship should work or you believe you might have a claim for legal malpractice, Pensacola injury lawyers may be able to help assess your situation and explain your rights. For a free consultation, call 888-549-7011 or contact us online.