The Attorney-Client Relationship Explained
If you’ve entered into a relationship with an attorney for the first time, you might be wondering what constitutes proper conduct. As you might have imagined, there is a lengthy document—known as the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct—that lawyers practicing in our state need to follow at all times.
It’s unreasonable to expect every client, especially during a stressful period of their lives, to read through this complex, labyrinthian mess of legalese. In order to properly understand the attorney-client relationship, we’ve compiled some information based off the most frequent questions our clients ask, with a specific eye on Michigan state law.
Communication, Communication, Communication
If there is any rule a legal team is expected to follow, it is that which requires that they keep their clients informed—within reason—of the status of their case and advises those clients of any potential settlement offers, case evaluations, and plea bargains. Sufficient information should always be provided, preferably in layman’s terms, so that the client is able to make an educated and informed decision before proceeding. Similarly, all legal fees should be communicated in writing and defined clearly.
Confidentiality and Secrets
Everyone understands that in any relationship, when something is shared in confidence, there is a mutual understanding that it won’t be leaked, exposed, or made public. In legal terms, “confidence” refers to something slightly more specific: information gleaned by your lawyer that is protected by the attorney-client relationship. That is to say, some things can remain private.
No one likes telling secrets. However, “secret” information—such as embarrassing personal details you feel would be detrimental to your case—can sometimes be revealed under some circumstances, such as when they are required by court order—or if you reveal you have the intention to commit a crime or are hiding a previous crime.
While this is a decent summary of the types of regulations your lawyer is expected to follow while representing you, it is far from comprehensive. If you are interested in learning more, or you feel you have been mistreated, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Grand Rapids attorney with expertise in your specific area of law.