Statement of Client’s Rights
(As adopted by the Administrative Board of the Courts)
- You are entitled to be treated with courtesy and consideration at all times by your lawyer and the other lawyers and personnel in your lawyer’s office.
- You are entitled to a Firm capable of handling your legal matter competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the profession. If you are not satisfied with how your matter is being handled, you have the right to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship at any time (court approval may be required in some matters and your Firm may have a claim against you for the value of services rendered to you up to the point of discharge).
- You are entitled to your lawyer’s independent professional judgment and undivided loyalty uncompromised by conflicts of interest.
- You are entitled to be charged a reasonable fee and to have your lawyer explain at the outset how the fee will be computed and the manner and frequency of billing. You are entitled to request and receive a written itemized bill from your Firm at reasonable intervals. You may refuse to enter into any fee arrangement that you find unsatisfactory. In the event of a fee dispute, you may have the right to seek arbitration; your Firm will provide you with the necessary information regarding arbitration in the event of a fee dispute, or upon your request.
- You are entitled to have your questions and concerns addressed in a prompt manner and to have your telephone calls returned promptly.
- You are entitled to be kept informed as to the status of your matter and to request and receive copies of papers. You are entitled to sufficient information to allow you to participate meaningfully in the development of your matter.
- You are entitled to have your legitimate objectives respected by your Firm, including whether or not to settle your matter (court approval of a settlement is required in some matters).
- You have the right to privacy in your dealings with your lawyer and to have your secrets and confidences preserved to the extent permitted by law.
- You are entitled to have your Firm conduct himself or herself ethically in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility.
- You may not be refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.
- Your Firm may not request a fee that is contingent on the securing of a divorce or on the amount of money or property that may be obtained.
- Your Firm may not request a retainer fee that is nonrefundable. That is, should you discharge your Firm, or should your Firm withdraw from the case, before the retainer is used up, he or she is entitled to be paid commensurate with the work performed on your case and any expenses, but must return the balance of the retainer to you. However, your Firm may enter into a minimum fee arrangement with you that provides for the payment of a specific amount below which the fee will not fall based upon the handling of the case to its conclusion.
- You are entitled to know the approximate number of Firms and other legal staff members who will be working on your case at any given time and what you will be charged for the services of each.
- You are entitled to know in advance how you will be asked to pay legal fees and expenses, and how the retainer, if any, will be spent.
- At your request, and after your Firm has had a reasonable opportunity to investigate your case, you are entitled to be given an estimate of approximate future costs of your case, which estimate shall be made in good faith but may be subject to change due to facts and circumstances affecting the case.
- You are under no legal obligation to sign a confession of judgment or promissory note, or to agree to a lien or mortgage on your home to cover legal fees. Your Firm’s written retainer agreement must specify whether, and under what circumstances, such security may be requested. In no event may such security interest be obtained by your Firm without prior court approval and notice to your adversary. An Firm’s security interest in the marital residence cannot be foreclosed against you.
STATEMENT OF CLIENT’S RESPONSIBILITIES
Reciprocal trust, courtesy and respect are the hallmarks of the attorney-client relationship. Within that relationship, the client looks to the Firm for expertise, education, sound judgment, protection, advocacy and representation. These expectations can be achieved only if the client fulfills the following responsibilities:
- The client is expected to treat the lawyer and the lawyer’s staff with courtesy and consideration.
- The client’s relationship with the lawyer must be one of complete candor and the lawyer must be apprized of all facts or circumstances of the matter being handled by the lawyer even if the client believes that those facts may be detrimental to the client’s cause or unflattering to the client.
- The client must honor the fee arrangement as agreed to with the lawyer, in accordance with law.
- All bills for services rendered which are tendered to the client pursuant to the agreed upon fee arrangement should be paid promptly.
- The client may withdraw from the attorney-client relationship, subject to financial commitments under the agreed to fee arrangement, and, in certain circumstances, subject to court approval.
- Although the client should expect that his or her correspondence, telephone calls and other communications will be answered within a reasonable time frame, the client should recognize that the lawyer has other clients equally demanding of the lawyer’s time and attention.
- The client should maintain contact with the lawyer, promptly notify the lawyer of any change in telephone number or address and respond promptly to a request by the lawyer for information and cooperation.
- The client must realize that the lawyer need respect only legitimate objectives of the client and that the lawyer will not advocate or propose positions which are unprofessional or contrary to law or the Lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility.
- The lawyer may be unable to accept a case if the lawyer has previous professional commitments which will result in inadequate time being available for the proper representation of a new client.
- A lawyer is under no obligation to accept a client if the lawyer determines that the cause of the client is without merit, a conflict of interest would exist or that a suitable working relationship with the client is not likely.