100 years + of collective legal malpractice experience

Know your rights: seven ethical standards for lawyers

by | May 1, 2018 | Legal Malpractice |

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.