Know your rights: seven ethical standards for lawyers

When hiring a lawyer, most Floridians are dealing with emotionally and financially devastating issues. Even after you have settled on a lawyer, you may question your decision. Perhaps your lawyer is slow to respond to emails, or you feel he or she is not working towards your best interests.

As a client, you have the right to know what to expect from your attorney. The American Bar Association is a professional membership organization dedicated to the practice of law. The organization also ensures members conduct their work in an ethical manner. The American Bar Association has ethical standards for attorneys to uphold.

Perform duties competently

All attorneys must represent their clients in a competent manner. Your attorney should stay updated on current case law and any changes that occur. An attorney must represent you to the best of his or her ability.

Follow the client’s instructions

A lawyer will often present you with a variety of options regarding your case. After your attorney has presented options, it is up to you to decide how to move forward. Your representative can make a recommendation, but ultimately, it is your decision. The only exception is if you ask your lawyer to do something illegal. Committing illegal acts is against an attorney’s ethical and legal obligations.

Meets all deadlines

Legal issues often entail deadlines to submit evidence, file motions or submit appeals. Your lawyer must file all needed documents in a timely manner. If an attorney is too busy to do so, he or she should not be working on that case. Any crucial missed deadlines could mean you have a claim for legal malpractice.

Must communicate with the client

Attorneys must communicate with you in a timely fashion. If you have a question, your lawyer must make sure to explain the issue until you understand. You should also discuss any changes in the case.

Provide a clear accounting of the fees

You should know how much your lawyer charges, and the fees should fall within a reasonable spectrum.

Maintains Confidentiality

Perhaps the best-known ethical standard for attorneys is the duty to maintain attorney-client privilege. That means your lawyer cannot disclose what you discussed with other parties. This protects your ability to mount a defense, as well as allows you to be completely honest with your attorney. Only extreme circumstances allow the confidence to be broken.

Avoids Conflicts of Interest

If your lawyer is representing your case against a grocery store, your lawyer should not accept a related case where he or she represent the grocery store. A lawyer needs to be loyal to the client’s best interests.

If you think your lawyer has behaved unethically, it is best to try to address these issues with him or her first. If that does not resolve it, you can file a complaint with the Florida Bar Association. If your attorney made egregious errors, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice case, and you can contact an attorney who specializes in such cases.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email us for a response

Tell Us About Your Case

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy



Jacksonville Office
1300 Riverplace Boulevard
Suite 401
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Toll Free: 866-542-1996
Phone: 904-396-1996
Fax: 904-396-1991
Map & Directions

Miami Office
1395 Brickell Avenue
Suite 800
Miami, FL 33131

Phone: 305-200-8674
Phone: 305-200-8675
Fax: 305-200-8801
Map & Directions

West Palm Beach - By Appointment Only
301 Clematis Street
Suite 300
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Phone: 561-832-5991
Fax: 561-832-5985
Map & Directions

Panama City Office
305 Cherry Street
Panama City, FL 32401

Phone: 850-481-1386
Fax: 850-640-1247
Map & Directions

Tampa Office
10150 Highland Manor Drive
Suite 200
Tampa, FL 33610

Fax: 813-314-2163
Map & Directions