Attorneys are licensed professionals whose conduct is governed by the Lawyer's Code of Professional Responsibility (Code). Lawyers are required to maintain high professional standards. Under these standards, clients are guaranteed certain rights.

Courteous and Respectful Treatment

You are entitled to courteous and respectful treatment by his/her attorney and all personnel in the attorney's office.

Full Fee Disclosure

You are entitled to the full disclosure of the attorney's fees.

Many attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation, and then there are various fee arrangements if the attorney agrees to take your case. When this happens, there's a contractual relationship between the attorney and the client.

The attorney may charge a flat fee for handling routine legal matters such as a simple will or an uncontested divorce. Hourly fees can vary depending upon the attorney's experience and expertise in a particular area of law. Contingent fees are when the attorney gets a percentage of any recovery the client receives. Contingent fee agreements have to be in writing.

Competence

You are entitled to competent representation by the attorney.

Competency requires both intelligence and experience on the part of the attorney. There are ethical rules that prohibit an attorney from taking a case that is frivolous (lacks merit) or is intended to harass another person.

Confidentiality

You are entitled to complete confidentiality of any matter when you are a client of an attorney.

The attorney-client privilege means that generally the attorney (and all personnel in the attorney's office) can't reveal confidential information the client conveys to the attorney in the course of representation or when seeking representation. There are rare instances when this confidentiality can be broken.

Free from Conflicts of Interest

You are entitled to the attorney's loyalty.

The attorney can't represent you if that representation conflicts with the attorney's representation of other clients. The Code prohibits simultaneous representation of clients with directly conflicting interests. In such cases, the attorney should only undertake representation if both parties given informed written consent to the representation.

Regular Updates and Prompt Attention

You are entitled to regular updates on the status of thelegal matter. The attorney should promptly respond to your questions and phone calls.

Holding and Accounting of Client Funds

You are entitled to an accounting of all funds held by the attorney.

The attorney must keep client money and escrow funds in a separate attorney trust account, and can't use the funds without your property. The attorney is obligated to promptly return any money or property to you if the attorney is dismissed from the case or if the case ends.

Attorney Misconduct

You have the right to file a complaint with the state bar for alleged attorney misconduct.

Tagged as: client bill of rights, fee structure, contingency, confidentiality