RULE 1.4 COMMUNICATION

Effective Date: 8/1/2006

(a) A lawyer shall:

(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's consent is required by these Rules;

(2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client's objectives are to be accomplished;

(3) make reasonable efforts to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter;

(4) promptly comply with the client's reasonable requests for information; and

(5) consult with the client about any relevant information on the lawyer's conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by these Rules or other law.

(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

Comment

Explaining Matters to a Client

[1] The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the representation to the extent the client is willing and able to do so. For example, a lawyer negotiating on behalf of a client should provide the client with facts relevant to the matter, inform the client of communications from another party and take other reasonable steps that permit the client to make a decision regarding a serious offer from another party. A lawyer who receives from opposing counsel an offer of settlement in a civil controversy or a proffered plea bargain in a criminal case should promptly inform the client of its substance unless prior discussions with the client have left it clear that the proposal will be unacceptable. Even when a client delegates authority to the lawyer, the client should be kept advised of the status of the matter.

[2] Adequacy of communication depends in part on the kind of advice or assistance involved. For example, in negotiations where there is time to explain a proposal, the lawyer should review all important provisions with the client before proceeding to an agreement. In litigation a lawyer should explain the general strategy and prospects of success and ordinarily should consult the client on tactics that might injure or coerce others. On the other hand, a lawyer ordinarily cannot be expected to describe trial or negotiation strategy in detail. The guiding principle is that the lawyer should fulfill reasonable client expectations for information.

[3] Ordinarily, the information to be provided is that appropriate for a client who is a comprehending and responsible adult. However, fully informing the client according to this standard may be impracticable, for example, when the client is a minor or a person with limited capacity. See Rule 1.14. When the client is an organization or group, it is often impossible or inappropriate to inform every one of its members about its legal affairs; ordinarily, the lawyer should address communications to the appropriate authority in the organization. See Rule 1.13. Where many routine matters are involved, a system of limited or occasional reporting may be arranged with the client. Practical exigency may also require a lawyer to act for a client without prior communication as to that action.

Withholding or Delaying Transmission of Information

[4] When a lawyer reasonably believes the disclosure of certain information to a client would have a high probability of resulting in substantial harm to a client or others, the lawyer may withhold or delay the transmission of the information, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to avoid the harm. For example, a lawyer might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client. A lawyer may not withhold or delay the transmission of information to serve the lawyer's own interest or convenience. Rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to a lawyer may not be disclosed to the client. Rule 3.4(c) directs compliance with such rules or orders.

Reference: Minutes of the Professional Conduct Subcommittee of the Attorney Standards Committee as amended 10/21/83 and 02/03/84; Minutes of the Joint Committee on Attorney Standards on 11/15/02; 11/19/04, 06/14/05.

Effective Date Obsolete Date
08/01/2006 View
10/21/1983 08/01/2006 View