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What is the role of a principal attorney in a lawsuit? Do they have a fiduciary to me in any way?

Philadelphia, PA |

This is a really important question to me. What is the role of a principal attorney in a lawuit? Do they have any fiduciary duty to me? Does that mean they are supposed to represent me for trial? Please help!

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

The principal attorney in any lawsuit owes the duty of professional services at the standard of care to the attorney's client. Are you the client?

In a class action, the attorney owes a duty to the class, and the determination of who is in the class can be difficult over the course of the litigation.

Absent more facts about the nature of the case and legal proceeding, and about your connection and involvement in the legal matter and the underlying dispute, there is no basis for a more substantive and explicit answer.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Asker

Posted

The case is in mass tort. I do not have a direct contract with him. He was hired as local and lead counsel through the first attorney I hired who is out of state. I would not settle but he was getting paid though the other attorney’s fees. On one document the attorney I am discussing in this post, is also listed as principal attorney. He has been doing some really naughty/ethics violation type things on my case. He claims if I file any complaints against him he will sue me. In general, does he have any fiduciary duty to me? I cannot see how any lawyer working on a case, even if appointed by the cours and even being paid through another lawyer can claim he is not my lawyer and has no duty to me? That is like saying do want you want even if it knowingly hurts the client. Thank you kinly for any help.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

These matters are very procedurally complicated, but general ethical obligations and rules of practice are still applicable. The terms of the appointment of the attorney and the court's orders of case management will define many of the principal attorney's specific obligations. I suggest that yo write a straight-forward and non-inflammatory letter, setting out your specific concerns and questions. You do not need to offer any conclusions or make accusations, just let the facts and issues speak for themselves. Send it to the attorney in question and to the attorney that you hired. Ask for a meeting to discuss these issues and concerns and for a written response as well. I hope that effort will help to resolve this matter. Best wishes.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for the advice but I think we are past that. He removed himself from my case as lead counse. I am not allowed to contact him because he is not my lawyer according to him. He's just local counsel hired by the other lawer. He does not even have to talk to me and I am not to contact him. If I file anything I will be sued. Your answer helps. Thank you for being gracious and answering me.

Posted

Can you explain what type of case this is and what you mean by principal attorney as opposed to what other kind of attorney? What distinction are you making in your mind?

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