What are a lawyer's ethical duties?

Attorneys in Florida and most other states follow a set of rules of conduct, adopted into state law, that govern their actions in representing clients, as well as their responsibilities to them. As the disciplinary arm of the state Supreme Court, the Florida Bar Association also has the responsibility for investigating claims of attorney misconduct and imposing sanctions, if deemed necessary.

The American Bar Association has set several rules that serve as a basis for many states’ ethics rules as well. They establish the ethical responsibilities of attorneys as follows:

Following client instructions

Once an attorney advises a client of his options in a case, he should act as the client wishes, despite whether he prefers to proceed differently. If the client understands his options and the possible results, it is his decision on how to proceed.

Competent work

As part of his responsibility to provide excellent work, an attorney must understand and be able to effectively apply legal trends. He must be able to analyze and interpret new laws. 

Communication

At times, clients may feel they are being left out of the loop when they do not hear from their attorneys. A lawyer must keep his client apprised of any and all changes in his case and inform him within a reasonable time.

Diligence

Busy attorneys should not accept more cases than they realistically can handle. If a lawyer delays certain cases to take care of other matters, he can wind up damaging those cases. He must be certain to have the time and commitment due to each case and client before accepting a new one.

Conflict of interest

An attorney may not represent clients who are on opposing sides in a case or other legal matters. To do so may compromise one or both sides.

Confidentiality

This rule is widely known as attorney-client privilege and its purpose is to help safeguard confidential information. This rule allows a client to openly discuss details that may be damaging or embarrassing with his attorney without fear of disclosure to others.

This information provided here is informational in nature. It is not to be taken as legal advice.

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