Aug 09, 2016 The lawyer’s obligation to give clients good advice, even if the client will then bolt
In 2013, Denver personal injury lawyer Chad Hemmat blogged about a client who replaced Hemmat as the client’s lawyer, after Hemmat cautioned his client about the risks of heavily using a chiropractor’s services — rather than supplementing the services with those of a physician — in relation to the value of his personal injury claim. Hemmat says that the client reported this advice to his chiropractor, who got irate and helped get the client switched to another lawyer, who I surmise refers clients to this chiropractor.
Hemmat had taken the high road in providing sound advice to his client, even at the risk of the client’s dropping Hemmat as the messenger of this sound advice. In the end, Hemmat’s client may have suffered the consequences of not following Hemmat’s advice.
A lawyer’s obligation is to be fully client-focused, even at the risk of the client’s switching lawyers to hear an overly-rosy picture from a replacement lawyer.
Of course, it is important for the lawyer to be fully respectful, tactful, and open-minded (therefore, open to recognizing when the lawyer’s advice is not on target) in talking with his or her client about difficult issues, bad news, and disagreements with a client. With me, I get along very well with the vast majority of my clients, often enjoying each other’s company beyond only talking about their cases. That good relationship helps in discussing even the most difficult matters with my clients.
My criminal defense clients are in challenging situations. Ideally they want to hear good news. But more importantly they want the truth, a realistic assessment of their case, and my doggedness in finding ways to get around — or at least to shrink — even the biggest hurdles in their cases. I have no choice to do it any other way.