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.
Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.
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Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
Comment - Rule 1.03
1. The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, 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 to permit the client to make a decision regarding a serious offer from another party. A lawyer who receives from opposing counsel either 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. See Comment 2 to Rule 1.02.
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. Moreover, in certain situations practical exigency may require a lawyer to act for a client without prior consultation. The guiding principle is that the lawyer should reasonably fulfill client expectations for information consistent with the duty to act in the client's best interests, and the client's overall requirements as to the character of representation.
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 impractical, as for example, where the client is a child or suffers from mental disability; see paragraph 5. 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 officials of 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.
4. In some circumstances, a lawyer may be justified in delaying transmission of information when the lawyer reasonably believes the client would be likely to react imprudently to an immediate communication. Thus, a lawyer might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client. Similarly, rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to a lawyer may not be disclosed to the client. Rule 3.04(d) sets forth the lawyer's obligations with respect to such rules or orders. A lawyer may not, however, withhold information to serve the lawyer's own interest or convenience.
Client Under a Disability
5. In addition to communicating with any legal representative, a lawyer should seek to maintain reasonable communication with a client under a disability, insofar as possible. When a lawyer reasonably believes a client suffers a mental disability or is not legally competent, it may not be possible to maintain the usual attorney-client relationship. Nevertheless, the client may have the ability to understand, deliberate upon, and reach conclusions about some matters affecting the client's own well-being. Furthermore, to an increasing extent the law recognizes intermediate degrees of competence. For example, children's opinions regarding their own custody are given some weight. The fact that a client suffers a disability does not diminish the desirability of treating the client with attention and respect. See also Rule 1.02(e) and Rule 1.05, Comment 17.