End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library
As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.
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Oregon Legal Ethics
1.4:100 Comparative Analysis of Oregon Rule
There is no direct counterpart to MR 1.4 among the DRs. DR 6-101(B), which prohibits a lawyer from neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him or her, carries with it an affirmative duty to keep the client reasonably informed as to the status of the matter entrusted to the attorney.
DR 6-101(B) is identical to the ABA Model Code counterpart.
1.4:200 Duty to Communicate with Client
• Primary OR References: DR
• Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.4(a), Other Jurisdictions
• Commentary: ABA/BNA § 31.501, ALI-LGL §§ 20, Wolfram §§ 4.5, 4.6
• OR Commentary: EOL §§ 8.8, 19.12
The attorney must keep the client reasonably informed of the status of the matter. See In re Hereford, 295 Or 604, 668 P2d 1217 (1983) (neglecting to contact client and missing appointments with client contributed to public reprimand). Some Oregon decisions involving DR 6-101(B) also seem to require promptness in the communication. See, e.g., In re Sousa, 323 Or 137, 915 P2d 408 (1996) (failure to communicate with client for 10 months, despite client’s repeated attempts to contact lawyer, contributed to finding of lawyer’s violation); In re James H. Lewelling, 244 Or 282, 417 P2d 1019 (1966) (inordinate delay in answering client correspondence contributed to five-year probation).
The attorney may also be responsible for ensuring the client understands (1) the advice given, (2) the action to be taken, and (3) the potential consequences that can result from various courses of action. When important decisions are being made, attorneys can best protect themselves against malpractice by writing the client a letter confirming communication of the above and copy the client on all correspondence and other documents generated or received in the course of handling the client’s matter.
1.4:400 Duty to Inform the Client of Settlement Offers [see also 1.2:320-340]
The DRs do not specifically require an attorney to inform the client of settlement offers, but this duty may be implicit in the attorney’s responsibility to keep the client reasonably informed of the status of the matter. This duty is also embedded in the lawyer’s obligation to ensure that decisions of his or her client are made only after the client has been informed of relevant considerations. OSB Legal Ethics Op No 1991-33. As noted, it is for the client to decide whether he or she will accept a settlement offer and whether the offer is in the client’s best interests.
An attorney may settle a matter for a client only if the attorney has the client’s authority to do so.