Is it legal for your counsel to schedule an evidentiary hearing for your case, in court, without notifying you?

Asked over 2 years ago - Boston, MA

Is it legal for your counsel to schedule an evidentiary hearing for your case, in court, without notifying you? Is it ethical for your attorney to invite opposing counsel to a hearing in a matter that does not involve them and not notify you? Is it ethical for your attorney to not let you know about deadlines for filing oppositions etc for motions?

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    Answered . I have to disagree with Mr. Hammerlund. The fact is that any or all of these actions may be appropriate, or at least inconsequential, depending on the circumstances.

    First, your question about the evidentiary hearing: It depends on the nature and purpose of the hearing and on the customary practices of the courts in your jurisdiction. In some instances the court sets the date for a hearing. Or the evidentiary hearing is scheduled in collaboration with the clerk of the court, or even by the clerk of the court, as a consequence of filing papers with the court that trigger hearing dates at a specified interval. Sometimes an evidentiary hearing must be held within a certain period of time, and the schedules of the necessary attorneys leaves little choice about a date that complies with that time frame. In fact, there are hundreds of reasons why an evidentiary hearing may get set without prior consultation with the client. And, of course, where that turns out to be a problem, very likely the matter can be re-set for a different day or a request can be made of the court for a new date. But the initial setting of the date is not necessarily unprofessional, unethical or even rude or insensitive. Sometimes , for any number of reasons, it is unavoidable.

    As for your question about deadlines for oppositions to motions: in most cases the deadlines for motions and oppositions for motions are of no interest or concern to the client. It would be a rare situation where the client was necessary to the completion of an opposition to a motion. Without some reason specific to the case, very few attorneys would routinely notify a client of the date an opposition to a legal motion was due. There simply is no reason to do that.

    As for your question about inviting opposing counsel to a hearing that does not involve that attorney, this simply makes no sense. Few if any attorneys are willing to spend time at hearings (all of which are tedious and long and boring) when it does not involve them or their case. After all, what attorneys have to sell is time -- and no one gives it away on matters they have no involvement in.

    All said, it is clear that there are some profound misunderstandings and unorthodox client expectations at work here. Before you suffer the delay, effort and expense of finding other counsel, it would be a sound decision to schedule a clear-the-air meting or telephone conference with your attorney and discuss your concerns. None of what you have asked about is a good reason for dispensing with the services of a skilled attorney. And, of course, no one needs any reason to terminate the services of an ineffective attorney.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice.... more
  2. Answered . It sounds like you should get a new attorney. For ethics questions you may need to contact the Mass. BBO.

    Do you want accurate, personalized, legal advice that you can rely on? You will have to hire an attorney, not ask... more
  3. Answered . None of the things you mentioned are necessarily unethical or otherwise improper. I would have to know a lot more facts to determine that. However, you should be able to discuss your concerns with your lawyer. If you can't, then the relationship is probably not working and you should try to find someone whom you trust.

    Evaluating any legal question requires a detailed knowledge of the specific facts involved. Since a short... more

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