Everyone who has ever found themselves in need of a personal injury lawyer has had a variety of expectations of that lawyer. Most people would agree that their lawyer should return their calls promptly and share significant information about their case. But one man’s prompt is another man’s late. How can the lawyer and the client make sure they agree with each other’s expectations?
Rule 1.4 (a) of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct guides us to what clients should expect of their lawyer:
1. A lawyer shall promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance that significantly affects their case;
2. A lawyer shall reasonably consult with the client about how the client’s objectives will be accomplished;
3. A lawyer shall promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
4. A lawyer shall tell the client if there is any legal limitation on the lawyer’s ability to meet the client’s objectives.
In other words, your lawyer should let you know what’s going on with your case; your lawyer should tell you his case plan; your lawyer should return your calls and give you periodic updates of his progress; and if there are any rules or laws that prevent your lawyer from being able to achieve your goals, the lawyer must tell you.
But this goes both ways. Rule 1.4(b) goes on to say that the lawyer shall provide the client with the information the client needs to participate in their own representation. So your lawyer needs you to be active in your case. Let your lawyer know your goals and expectations so that your lawyer can properly advise and represent you. Be honest with your lawyer and answer all of their questions (even if you think they are irrelevant to your case). You will be paying good money for your lawyer’s expertise, so listen to his advice!
As an attorney for a New Orleans personal injury law firm, I can tell you that communication is the key to the lawyer-client relationship. Ask your lawyer how he plans to meet the requirements of Rule 1.4, and, if you have a different plan in mind, speak up! This is your case and you deserve to be satisfied!