What Are the Duties of Lawyers?
Folks turn to lawyers for advice on all sorts of topics. However, they are supposed to do more than just tell you what they think of your situation and how you might handle it. The job comes with specific duties, and here are three things that every client should know about those duties.
When Does a Lawyer Become Duty-Bound?
Until there has been what's called an exchange of consideration, lawyers have no duties to the people they're talking to. This almost always means the lawyer receives some sort of payment in exchange for services rendered. That means that just having a talk with your next-door neighbor who's a lawyer does not make them duty-bound to give you competent advice or represent your interests.
Notably, a claim on a percentage of something usually counts as consideration. For example, an injury lawyer who agrees to contingency work on a case in return for a portion of the eventual settlement or judgment is duty-bound to their client.
You'll note that many lawyers segregate paid consultations from regular work. During a paid consultation, the lawyer has an obligation to provide sound advice. However, that duty ceases once the time they've been paid for is over.
Protecting Your Rights
The core duty of any lawyer is to protect the client's rights. For example, a client has a right to learn about every settlement offer that's made. Consequently, lawyers have a duty to relay all offers that are made. They can then offer their best assessment of whether the offer is worthwhile or not, but they have to convey the offer and respond to it according to the client's wishes.
Another important duty is the responsibility to be a zealous advocate of your interests as the client. Injury lawyers are expected to advocate for getting the most compensation possible for a client. They should not, for example, accept a low-ball offer from an insurance company just to get the case over with.
Zealous advocacy, admittedly, produces a balancing act. It isn't the lawyer's job to maximize the outcome for the client. Instead, it is to help them do whatever is in the client's best interests. That means there may come a point where settling a case is the wise thing to do. The lawyer will inform the client of their opinion that they've pushed a case as far as possible. However, it is always the client's choice. If the lawyer strongly disagrees with the client, it is then their duty to withdraw as counsel.
Learn more by contacting local lawyers.