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What duties arise from a legal consultation?

by | Dec 28, 2018 | Legal Malpractice |

Like most in Florida, prior to your current situation, you likely could not envision being in a scenario in which you would need to secure the services of an attorney. Yet you probably hear advertisements for local lawyers soliciting your business, telling you to come in for a consultation to see if they can help you. The question is what legal obligation do you have when seeking such a consultation, and conversely, what obligation does the consulting attorney have to you? 

Typically legal consultations are simply advice-seeking endeavors, so you likely will not be charged for such a visit (if you will be, the attorney must make that clear in their advertising). Likewise, even after having received the attorney’s advice, you are under no obligation to secure their services at present or in the future. 

Of course, in order to receive the correct guidance, you need to be up-front about the matter in question. That may require disclosing sensitive information that you do not feel comfortable sharing with an attorney that you have not yet formally retained as your legal counsel. Yet you need not worry about such information being leaked out; per the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, even a consulting attorney cannot share information given to them by a prospective client. 

If the attorney you speak with is representing a client in substantially related matter, and representing your interests would be adverse to those of their current client, they cannot represent you (nor can any member of their firm). Furthermore, if you provide them with information that could be harmful to their current client’s representation, they must also disqualify themselves from representing that client, as well.