Generally speaking, someone seeking legal counsel is confused, stressed and in need of very wise counsel. Even licensed attorneys – who are conversant in the law – seek legal counsel when facing possible litigation.
The old adage, a person who represents himself has a fool for a client, applies: emotions are so heightened that even experienced legal professionals eschew advocating for themselves, imagine what fear it engenders in a layman.
How much control do I have?
You retain an attorney for his counsel and legal acumen. The attorney is responsible for educating you and offering his concerted opinion and direction. Does that mean, however, that you have no voice or direction in your case? No.
An attorney is ethically bound to accept your decisions regarding your case. While the attorney may suggest mediation, you are free to decline. Your attorney might encourage settlement, which you may reject.
What if my attorney ignores my direction?
Your attorney is not free to make decisions on your behalf without your explicit consent. Note the following:
- You direct the case: With the guidance of your attorney, you choose a strategy. While your attorney may decide certain exhibits or testimony helps your case, if you have strong feelings against it, discuss it with your attorney.
- You direct the outcome: Your attorney may recommend settling a case, rather than taking it to trial. Attorneys may advise you that, at trial, no one can ever predict the outcome. You may, however, have strong feelings against settling. In that case, your attorney must honor your decision, and cannot accept a settlement on your behalf.
What are my options?
Attorneys endeavor to help their clients. Their goal is the best possible outcome for you. But, in the end, your attorney cannot override your decisions and choices regarding your case.
If your attorney fails to honor this ethical rule, and you believe it adversely affected your case’s outcome, a consultation with a legal malpractice attorney can help you understand your rights and remedies.