One of the hallmarks of professional conduct is effective communication with your client. My practice as an attorney involves representing people who have been injured and who have had their lives disrupted by the negligence of others. One of the things these clients need and expect is an advocate for their issues and ear for their concerns. As a result I and my staff communicate daily with our clients. We are constantly on the phone, meeting with clients in the office, or speaking with others to help coordinate issues with insurance companies and doctors.
Because communication is so important, the Rules of Professional Conduct have a specific section on this issue. RPC 1.4 entitled “Communication” states as follows:
- A lawyer shall fully inform a prospective client of how, when, and where the client may communicate with the lawyer.
- A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
- A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
- When a lawyer knows that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; the lawyer shall advise the client of the relevant limitations on the lawyers conduct.
I abide by the above principles every day in my practice. In fact, I believe it is so important to go above and beyond what the Rule requires. It is a must to be truthful and honest with clients at all times. You must discuss the good and the bad and always ensure your client understands everything. Sometimes the most difficult conversations are the most important. By following these standards of ethical conduct and effective communication the client and the attorney will both be served well.
Mike Foster is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Foster.