Lee & Lee PS Law Talk

Q: What are some warning signs to look for in the lawyer-client relationship? A: A lawyer should not enter into business transactions with a current client or acquire an ownership or financial interest in a business that it adverse to the client.  A lawyer should not use information relating to a client to the disadvantage of that client.  While representing a client, a lawyer should not advance or guarantee financial assistance to a client, except that a lawyer can advance the expenses of litigation (filing costs, medical exams, investigation costs etc.) as long as the client remains liable for such expenses.  For example, a lawyer can pay for the hiring of a medial expert witness in preparation for trial and bill the client at a later date, but a lawyer cannot help pay a client’s rent or credit card bills.

Lee & Lee PS Law Talk (Nelson Lee and Bethany Mito)

Lee & Lee PS Law Talk
Q: What are some warning signs to look for in the lawyer-client relationship?

A: A lawyer should not enter into business transactions with a current client or acquire an ownership or financial interest in a business that it adverse to the client.  A lawyer should not use information relating to a client to the disadvantage of that client.  While representing a client, a lawyer should not advance or guarantee financial assistance to a client, except that a lawyer can advance the expenses of litigation (filing costs, medical exams, investigation costs etc.) as long as the client remains liable for such expenses.  For example, a lawyer can pay for the hiring of a medial expert witness in preparation for trial and bill the client at a later date, but a lawyer cannot help pay a client’s rent or credit card bills.


Q: Are personal relationships between lawyer and client permitted?

A: It depends on the definition of “personal”.  Generally, a lawyer and current client cannot engage in sexual relations unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them BEFORE the lawyer-client relationship began.  A lawyer may also not engage in sexual relations with a representative of a current client if the sexual relationship would or would likely adversely impact the client.  A lawyer and client can be friends or even relatives.  However, both must try hard to keep the professional relationship separate from the personal.  Some would argue that this is not a good situation and that people should never hire friends or relatives to be their lawyer.

Q: What should I do if my lawyer is engaging in misconduct?

A: If you feel your lawyer is not representing your best interests, is engaging in behavior that you feel is harmful to you, or is acting in violation of the law or rules, you should discuss this with him/her immediately and demand an explanation as well as the cessation of the behavior/conduct.  If you believe the misconduct or behavior to be serious enough, you should report the lawyer to the Washington State Bar Association at 206-727-8207.  Please keep in mind that you will be required to file a grievance in writing.  Please also keep in mind that the Bar Association will not review grievances relating to the following: 1) fee disputes, 2) rude behavior, 3) reimbursement requests, or 4) complaints against opposing lawyers.  If you feel your lawyer owes you money or has overcharged you, you should file a lawsuit against him/her.  Although rude behavior is discouraged, it is not the subject of a disciplinary action by the Bar Association.  Finally, just because an opposing lawyer represented someone you had a dispute with or argued something you disagreed with, this is not generally a subject of a misconduct complaint.

The bottom line – be an informed legal consumer!  Research thoroughly the lawyer you are thinking of hiring and remember that you are the boss in the lawyer-client relationship. Communicate frequently with your lawyer and don’t be afraid to ask questions or to demand explanations.  Many lawyer-client relationships break down because of the failure to communicate.

Next topic: “What am I to do if I cannot afford to hire my own attorney? (1)”
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Lee & Lee PS Law Talk—Disclaimer—
This article is made available by Lee & Lee, PS and this publisher for educational purposes only.  The intent is to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law. The article does not provide specific legal advice.  Readers of this article should understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the writers or their publisher.  Furthermore, the article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction.

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