December 28, 2022
What You Need to Know About Lawyer-Client Relationship
The vast majority of individuals only work with lawyers when they are in desperate need. This means that many clients don’t know what to expect in terms of lawyer-client relationships. Getting legal counsel requires trust. You will be entrusting a stranger with the future of your family, career, or finances. On the other hand, for lawyers, developing excellent client relationships is essential for the growth of your law firm.
Knowing the fundamentals will help you make an informed decision and make sure you receive what you need out of the lawyer-client relationship. To help you be prepared should the need arise, here are some of the things you need to know about the lawyer-client relationship.
What Is a Lawyer-Client Relationship?
A lawyer-client relationship is established when a client requests legal counsel or representation from a lawyer. The extent of the representation may vary depending on the conditions of the agreement. A lawyer may agree to take on a specific case in which case the relationship may end as soon as the matter has been resolved. Occasionally, the lawyer may also accept the task of assisting the client in all potential legal cases, establishing an open-ended and continuing lawyer-client relationship.
It is important to note, however, that a lawyer-client relationship is not necessarily created by simply scheduling a consultation with a lawyer (unless the lawyer decides to take on legal representation for a particular issue) or if there is no expectation or assumption that the consultation will result in legal advice or representation.
Duties to the Client
Although the specifics of the lawyer-client relationship in Canada may vary depending on the jurisdiction, here are some of the common elements:
A lawyer is considered educated, qualified, and competent in the practice of law, so the client has the right to believe that their counsel has the competence to deal with any legal concerns that need to be handled on their behalf.
Competence is built upon moral and legal standards. It is more than just knowing legal concepts; it also entails having sufficient knowledge of the methods and practices that allow one to apply those principles successfully. To do this, the lawyer should stay up-to-date on changes in all areas of law in which they practice.
Additionally, a lawyer is required to act promptly and with due diligence. One must be committed to advancing the interests of the client and act zealously when advocating on their behalf.
A lawyer shouldn’t take on a case unless they are confident in their ability to manage it or that they can obtain the needed competencies without putting the client in unnecessary danger or expense. Any other justification for proceeding would be dishonest on the part of the lawyer. Incompetent legal representation harms the client, tarnishes the legal profession, and could compromise the integrity of the legal system.
Honesty and Candour
When giving legal advice to a client, a lawyer must be truthful and open and must disclose to the client all facts in his or her possession that might influence the client’s interests in the case. When a client wants legal advice, it is the lawyer’s responsibility to the client to provide a qualified opinion that is based on the practitioner’s own experience, competence, and sufficient understanding of the pertinent facts and applicable legislation. The advice must be unambiguous and open and must express the lawyer’s honest opinion of the case’s merits and likely outcomes.
A lawyer is required to inform a client of their language rights, including the option to continue in the official language of their choosing, where appropriate. They should be familiar with pertinent statutes and constitutional provisions about language rights, such as the Criminal Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which address language rights in criminal cases and courts with federal jurisdiction. Also, provincial or territorial laws may grant additional language rights, especially those related to aboriginal languages. The client, not the lawyer, determines the official language used.
Decision-Making in Legal Representation
A lawyer functions as a client’s agent. As a result, when a lawyer represents a client, the client is held by the lawyer’s choices, judgements, and actions, or lack thereof. The client must have a full idea of which decisions are up to the client and which situations provide the lawyer with the freedom to act on the client’s behalf.
As long as it is permitted by the general standards of professional conduct, the client’s requests determine how the situation is handled.
In contrast, the lawyer is often in charge of choosing the best course of action to accomplish the client’s goals. As a result, they are responsible for making judgements on several aspects of legal strategy, including the selection of motions, whom to call as witnesses, and the content of direct and cross-examination. Still, they have a responsibility to confer with the client before making choices and outlining plans, as well as to provide enough information about the risks involved and reasonably accessible alternatives.
Lawyers have a responsibility to maintain client confidentiality. All information about the business and affairs of the client will be held in absolute confidence by the lawyer, and they will not share any client information unless specifically instructed to do so by the client or required to do so by law. This enables a lawyer and client conversation that is completely open and unreserved, which in turn equips lawyers with sufficient knowledge to represent their clients in the best way possible. Even after the client’s case has concluded, client and lawyer confidentiality must still be maintained.
Conflict of Interest
A lawyer’s obligation to refrain from serving a client if there is a conflict of interest is another significant obligation. There is a conflict of interest when the lawyer’s interests or the lawyer’s obligations to other parties has a significant chance of harming the representation of the client. When a lawyer is requested to assist in a case where they personally stand to gain or lose, or when they are asked to engage in unethical behaviour, including lying on the client’s behalf, conflicts of interest may occur. Conflict may also develop when a lawyer is requested to represent a former client in a case against them. To uphold their commitments to act in their client’s best interests, lawyers have a responsibility to avoid conflicts of interest, which requires them to decline to act in these circumstances.
It is for the mutual benefit of the lawyer and client to adhere to these standards. Once the relationship is established, these client-lawyer relationship rules and responsibilities need to be followed to preserve the integrity of the case and the system.
If you are interested in hiring a Richmond Hill Injury Lawyer, Michelle Linka Law is the ideal partner for you. Call us at (416) 477-7288 today.