In a Client-Attorney Relationship:does not the attorney have to inform the client of everything in a case?

Asked about 1 year ago - Austin, TX

What rule, statute, law, ethics, Civil Rights: involves the client-attorney relationship whether criminal or civil: doesn't the attorney have to inform the client of all filings, meetings, communications; status of the case at all times? Is it legal/ethical if the attorney files anything without the knowledge of the client?
If yes, what is the clients options? Write to the court state: I was unaware of this filing or statements or what? Firing the attorney diverting a case...doesn't protect the client...yet sometimes that is what determines the status or outcome contradicting the intent of the client

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Don Karotkin

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . No. A lawyer is required to advise a client of all important developments in the legal matter and to do so in a timely manner. A lawyer is not ethically required to tell a client about every phone conversation, meeting, intra-office discussion, legal research project, pleading, etc. the lawyer is involved in. There are not enough hours in the day to make this even possible. Most lawyers keep a client advised of the pleadings they file, significant letters they write and other important communications by simply copying the client by either email or mail.

    Generally speaking, yes, it is "legal" for a lawyer to file a document without the client's knowledge. Many documents a lawyer files on behalf of a client would have little or no meaning to a non-lawyer client and having to explain all such documents to a client would be unreasonably time consuming and of no benefit to the client.

    Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 1.03 requires a lawyer to: 1) keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and 2) explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. The remedy for a violation of this rule is a complaint to the State Bar of Texas.

    If you find out that your lawyer has filed something you do not like, you should discuss it with him. If the lawyer ends up agreeing with you, he or she may be able to amend or withdraw the pleading or other document. Door number two is for you to fire your lawyer and hire a new one. You are always free to do that, although it is a radical step, usually very expensive and only rarely the correct option.

    No, you should not bypass your lawyer, speaking or writing directly to the judge, your adversary, or anyone else. Doing so defeats the entire purpose of hiring a lawyer to speak for you and endangers your legal rights. Whatever you have to say you should say through your lawyer. Again, if you think your lawyer has miscommunicated something to someone, you should sit down with him and discuss it.

    Good luck.

  2. Christine C McCall


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Any client who believes that they are entitled to affirmative notification or consultation about every single event in a case is a client that will soon go begging for a truly skilled and experienced attorney. And any client who think it is appropriate or necessary to sharp-shoot and scrutinize every act of their attorney, ever alert to any oversight or failure to make such communication, will also soon be looking for new counsel -- and be rejected by many. Highly skilled attorneys have better uses for their professional time, and will prefer to accept work from clients that are sufficiently knowledgeable about the attorney's skill, experience, and judgment that they will not have the psychological need to turn supervising their attorney into a full-time job.

    Your attorney is a professional, and knows what to do. You should not be represented by any attorney whose judgment you do not trues -- especially on such matters as what level of detail and activity merits a discussion with you first or a notification to you after. If you and your attorney cannot reach a genuine mutual definition of how to comfortably navigate this issue in the reality of real-time and real-life, get a different lawyer.

    How do you manage to supervise your surgeon so comprehensively when you have need of those professional skills?

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended... more
  3. Joseph Jonathan Brophy

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . There is no black and white rule as far as I know. The attorney has an obligation to keep the client reasonably informed of the status of the case, but that doesn't mean that the client needs to be informed of every single thing that happens. Many day to day things that go on are routine and have so little effect on the case that it would be a waste of time to inform the client. Other things, such as settlement negotiations are so important that the client needs to informed promptly.

    Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to... more

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