No matter your stance on a legal matter in Florida, you likely would prefer that the general public not be privy to the details of your case. Such information might offer unwanted insights into your personal life. Yet there may be times when despite your best efforts at discretion, the nature of your case will not allow it to remain out of the public spotlight. In such situations, many come to us here at St. Denis & Davey PA wondering what information their attorneys are allowed to disclose.
The need for attorneys in Florida to solicit their services to you and other prospective clients has been detailed on this blog in the past. Yet lawyers do not always have to chase down their own clients; there may be cases where the court appoints an attorney or law firm to provide you with representation. This is common in criminal cases, where each jurisdiction has a public defenders office that employs attorneys specifically for the purpose of representing you if you cannot secure your own attorney. There may also be instances outside of criminal complaints where the court has an established relationship with a local attorney and relies on said attorney to provide representation when it is needed.
You likely see advertisements both in the media and the public square soliciting the services of local attorneys. As has been mentioned on this blog in the past, attorneys are akin to small business owners in that a significant part of their jobs is securing new clients. This is why many of those who come to see us here at St. Denis & Davey P.A. are surprised when attorneys decline to represent them (or terminate their services while cases are still ongoing). If the same thing has happened to you, you might rightly question whether such an action is ethical.
It is likely known throughout Florida that legal services are not cheap. When one is arguing a legal claim (be it civil or criminal), they want the best representation possible given what is at stake. Thus, they many be willing to pay whatever is needed to procure the best chance at a favorable outcome to their case. That said, they also do not want to be at the financial whims of a high-priced attorney.
Any legal matter should be free of any appearance of impropriety. That not only includes the actions and attitudes of the claimant and respondent, but also those of any of the attorneys and even the officers of the court involved in a case. "Impropriety" can include any number of different things, including any perception of influence or bias. For example, an attorney involved in a case should not have established professional relationships with others involved in a manner, as it may be perceived that those relationships could have an impact on the outcome of a case. Should such bonds exist between an attorney and another related party, that fact should be disclosed so that a client can choose whether or not to continue to have said attorney offer them representation.
When many of those in Florida seek out the services of an attorney, they are not doing so with the intent of having said professional represent them on a single matter. Rather, they may be looking for a lawyer that they can trust to turn to in the future to handle other affairs. Indeed, when an attorney refers to one as their client, that may indicate that they manage a number of different areas of that person’s personal and professional life. In such a scenario, attorneys must be vigilant in avoiding actions that might be seen as a breach in the fiduciary duty they owe to their clients.
With all of the complexities that go into the practice of law, it may be easy for many in Florida to forget that attorneys (for the most part) are also small business owners. Like any business owner, the growth and success of their firms depends on good advertising. Per the Florida Bar, there are as many as 72,160 members eligible to practice in the state (as of 2015). This number demonstrates just how competitive the field of law can be for its practitioners.
When Florida residents like you are in legal trouble, you turn to a lawyer for help. But who do you turn to if you believe your lawyer doesn't have your best interests at the forefront of their mind? We at St. Denis & Davey, P.A., are here to talk about what a conflict of interest might look like in your legal relationship, and how it can affect you.
As a resident of Florida who is currently going through legal strife, you will likely be relying on your lawyer for numerous things. But what do you do if the lawyer you rely on has failed you or betrayed your trust in some way?
In today’s world, information flows freely. That often can includes details about legal matters in Florida, which (if you happen to be involved) you might just as soon prefer be kept private. Your desire to not have the specific details of a matter that you are involved in made public may go beyond simply wanting to maintain your privacy; releasing certain information might actually prejudice your case. Yet legal issues are rarely solitary matters, and you might likely have an attorney assisting you with yours. The question then becomes exactly what they are allowed to disclose to the public.