Generally, many understand that when clients hire lawyers, lawyers are supposed to uphold their end of the bargain. The most commonly reported problems that clients have with attorneys are lack of communication, inept customer service, and overall bad lawyering. However, many consumers do not have an understanding of the ethical framework under which attorneys operate.
Lawyers are bound to follow a set of rules of professional conduct that vary state to state. Much like the ethical rules in other professions, attorneys are bound to serve their clients’ interests and ensure that their basic needs such as communication and confidentiality are met. The American Bar Association promulgates a series of guidelines known as the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Most states derive their legal ethics rules from these model rules. Among the most important duties to clients that arise out of the legal ethics rules are: (1) the duty of competent representation; (2) the duty of communication with clients; (3) the duty of transparency regarding fee arrangements and management of client money; (4) confidentiality; and (5) professionalism. Law Office of Yuriy Moshes offers full service personal injury, labor and employment law, and real estate law services. We dedicate ourselves fully to our clients, but in our view, it is only fair that clients should know ahead of time what to expect from us (and other similar law firms). The following article is an explanation of the responsibilities that all lawyers have to their clients. If you are not receiving the appropriate level of service, you should find a new attorney.
A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Responsibility to Clients
Many personal injury law firms are functionally lawsuit mills; their business model is to churn clients in and out of the law firm as quickly as possible for maximum profit. However, this model not only tends to produce bad client experiences, but also short changes clients. Good personal injury attorneys will offer quality customer service as their main product. The nature of a personal injury victim is that they are a victim for one reason or another. No attorney needs to baby clients, but attorneys do have the responsibility to promptly communicate all developments and prevent the situation from getting worse.
Many personal injury attorneys shoot for the quick settlement, but this method often short changes injured people. A good personal injury attorney will also offer competent representation by taking the case through to its ideal conclusion for the client, whether that is a high value settlement or a verdict at trial. Similarly, it is important for a personal injury attorney to be upfront about their fee arrangements. Clients should always know exactly what to expect in terms of legal fees at the end of the day whether the fee rate is charged hourly or as a contingency (a percentage of the final recovery). Finally, a personal injury attorney should always represent the client’s interests professionally and with dignity.
Labor and Employment Law – How Your Lawyer Should Work for You
Like personal injury cases, most labor and employment law clients that come through our firm are also victims of predatory employers. As a result, the same tenets of professionalism and customer service apply as well. As always, communication is also critically important in any legal representation arrangement. The issue with employment law often comes in the form of competent representation. Employment law cases are complex and a good attorney needs to stay on top of the case to be able to succeed.
One of the key areas where employment lawyers often fall flat is in the area of procedural complexity. There are many different applicable government agencies and administrative courts that employment lawyers should be familiar with. Particularly, employment discrimination claims in particular have strict filing procedures and deadlines. A good employment law attorney will be able to navigate these agencies and procedures with ease, whereas others will fail. Finally, one of the core tenants of the duties of competence and communication is knowing when to pass a case along. Because employment law encompasses such a broad area of practice, no one employment lawyer can be expected to do everything. Some employment law firms specialize in employment discrimination and wage issues whereas others specialize in workers’ compensation. It is incumbent upon the lawyer to know when he or she has left her specialty and to then pass on the client to a more competent attorney with more knowledge about the case.
Professionalism and Money in Real Estate Law
The same duties of competence, communication, and professionalism that apply to personal injury and employment litigation also apply to real estate law. Like labor and employment law, real estate law also encompasses a wide range of topics and situations. Unlike personal injury and employment law, however, a large portion of a real estate lawyer’s business is transactional in nature rather than litigation focused. While foreclosure cases are much like other types of lawsuits, closing a home sale or working with real estate brokers is a different matter entirely.
One key area where transactional real estate attorneys fail is in client money management. Often, during the home sale process, a lawyer is entrusted with money to be used for the sale. By law, the lawyer must keep the client’s money separate from the law firm’s operating funds. Failure to do so is “commingling” of client funds, which can become a very serious problem if the law firm is financially unstable. Wherever the transfer of money is involved, lawyers owe a special duty to their clients to ensure that it stays safe.
The Law Office of Yuriy Moshes offers white glove customer service to personal injury, labor and employment, and real estate clients in New York and New Jersey. We strive to be more than just your typical law firm, but also a trusted partner in resolving any legal matters within our expertise.