Avoid the dangers of the solicitor-client relationship by communicating clearly when the performance begins and ends. Does anyone think you are their lawyer? It is quite possible that during an informal conversation with an acquaintance about a legal issue, you accidentally provided legal advice to that person. If this person has followed your advice and ultimately decides to rely on you for future advice and legal advice, you may have a solicitor-client relationship without realizing it. It is important to understand the importance of this type of situation, because if there is a lawyer-client relationship, you have a responsibility to your “client”. (c) A lawyer referred to in point (b) shall not represent a client whose interests are substantially opposed to those of a potential client in the same or substantially related case, if he has received information from the potential client which is likely to cause him significant harm in the case, except in the cases referred to in point (d). If a lawyer is excluded from representation under this paragraph, no lawyer of a law firm with which he is affiliated may knowingly assume or continue to represent in such a case, except in the cases provided for in paragraph (d). A company is a recognized legal entity whose interests are separate and distinct from persons acting on behalf of the company. This lawyer, engaged or engaged by a legally recognized corporation or organization, represents the corporation and has duties to the corporation, not to its directors, officers and shareholders. [4] According to the parameters set out in the Model Code of Ethics, the client is responsible for defining the objectives of legal representation. The customer also has the final say on how the issue will be resolved. The lawyer must therefore comply with the client`s decision as to whether and under what conditions a case should be resolved.

In a criminal case, the client ultimately decides how to respond to a criminal complaint, whether to forgo a jury trial, and whether the client will testify. All of these decisions must be made in consultation with the lawyer, but the client has the final say. [14] [9] Paragraph (d) prohibits a lawyer from knowingly advising or assisting a client in committing a crime or fraud. However, this prohibition does not prevent counsel from giving an honest opinion about the factual consequences that may result from a client`s conduct. Similarly, the fact that a client seeks advice in an inherently criminal or fraudulent proceeding does not make a lawyer a party to the proceedings. A critical distinction is made between analysing the legal aspects of questionable behaviour and recommending ways in which a crime or fraud could be committed with impunity. So how can a lawyer correctly recognize who is (or was) a client of the lawyer? In most cases, this is a relatively simple request: the lawyer and the client enter into a retention agreement that proves a relationship with the client for a particular matter.xi Sometimes, however, it is not entirely clear whether a client relationship has been established. And even if there is an attorney-client relationship, it may not be entirely clear who the client is. How to avoid an unwanted lawyer-client relationship? It is not uncommon for a lawyer to answer legal questions from friends, relatives, and even strangers.

Depending on the particular situation, a person may want you to answer legal questions, especially if the request is in the area of law in which you have experience. It is important to remember that a discussion with another person about a legal issue can lead to an unwanted solicitor-client relationship. To prevent such relationships from developing, use the following tactics: An attorney-client relationship is easily created. The relationship is “established when it is demonstrated that the client seeks and receives advice from a lawyer on the legal consequences of the client`s past or anticipated actions.” [1] If the client believes that you are his lawyer, and if there is a reasonable basis for this hypothesis, then you are his lawyer. Your relationship will then be governed by all rules of professional conduct and your behavior will be judged by them. First, inform the client in writing at the beginning of the existence and scope of the representation. For example, with what specific legal issue will you help the client? Or do you refuse to represent that person? The presence of third parties breaks the privilege, although there is an exception if the third party shares a common legal interest with the client or if the parties have signed a joint defence agreement. [29] Similarly, if the client subsequently discloses or makes public the contents of the confidential communication to a third party, the client is considered to have waived privilege, and testimony about that disclosure may be compelled by discovery or testimony. [30] If both parties agree to an ongoing relationship, the client usually pays the lawyer an advance fee to obtain representation from the lawyer. However, a lawyer-client relationship can also be established without modification of fees and without a signed agreement. If a lawyer provides advice to another lawyer who seeks such advice and the lawyer can reasonably foresee that the prospective client will rely on that advice, or if the client has reason to believe that he or she was represented by the lawyer, a relationship with the client arises. [2] However, the rule prohibiting the disclosure of confidential information is not absolute.

The rules of legal conduct recognize the circumstances in which a lawyer may disclose confidential information even without the client`s consent when there is a compelling and legitimate need. [24] These circumstances include cases where disclosure of the information is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury and to prevent the client from committing a criminal offence or fraud through the services of counsel. The attorney may also disclose confidential information in order to obtain legal advice on the compliance of the lawyer`s conduct with relevant ethical rules, to defend the client`s claims against him, or to comply with a court order. [25] [6] The scope of services to be provided by a lawyer may be limited by an agreement with the client or by the conditions under which the lawyer`s services are made available to the client. For example, if an insurer has retained a lawyer to represent an insured, representation may be limited to matters related to insurance coverage. Limited representation may be appropriate because the client has limited representation goals. In addition, the conditions under which the performance takes place may exclude certain means that could otherwise be used to achieve the client`s objectives. Such restrictions may prevent actions that the client deems too costly or that the lawyer deems repugnant or reckless. See, for example, Lee v. State Bar (1970) 2 C3d 927.

ii See Flatt v. Sup.Ct. (Daniel) (1994) 9 C4th 275 (“One of the principal duties of a lawyer is that of fidelity” [internal and omitted quotations]). See also Rule 1.7, note [1] (“Loyalty and independence of judgment are essential elements in the lawyer`s relationship with a client.”); Form of the Bar of the State of Cal. 1984-83 (“Perhaps the most fundamental quality of the attorney-client relationship is the absolute and complete fidelity that the lawyer owes to his client.”). iii California Business & Professions Code § 6068(e)(1) [emphasis added]. iv Rule 1.6(a) [emphasis added]. See also Rule 1.8.2 (Use of Current Client Information) (“A lawyer shall not use client information protected by section 6068, Subpart (e)(1) to the detriment of the client unless the client gives informed consent” [emphasis added]). v In addition, the existence of solicitor-client privilege under Section 954 of the California Code of Evidence depends on the existence and identity of a client. The term “client” is defined in section 951 of the Code of Evidence as “a person who, directly or through an authorized representative, consults with a lawyer with a view to retaining the services of the lawyer or receiving legal services or advice from the lawyer in a professional capacity.” See also Rule 1.18 (Obligations to Potential Customers), which extends to the extent set forth therein the protection of Rule 1.6 and Section 6068(e)(1) of the Business & Professions Code to a “potential customer” (as defined). vii See ABA Model Rule 1.7 (Conflict of Interest: Current Clients), Comment [2] (“The resolution of a conflict of interest issue under this rule requires counsel […] Clearly identify the client(s). »).

VIII emphasis added. IX italics added. x italics added. xi It is recommended that a retention agreement be documented. Indeed, certain commitments must be proved in writing. See Business & Professions Code §§ 6146 (for contingency fees) and 6148 (if reasonably foreseeable attorneys` fees and costs exceed $1,000 and the client is not a business). xii See, for example, Koo v. Rubio`s Restaurants, Inc. (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 719.

xiii See, for example, Lister v. State Bar (1990) 51 C3d 1117 (“No formal contract, agreement or attorneys` fees are required to create the attorney-client relationship.” [internal and omitted citations]); Hecht v. Superior Court (Ferguson) (1987) 192 Cal.App3d 560 (“It is the intention and conduct of the parties that are decisive for the formation of the attorney-client relationship”). See also Restatement, third, The Law Governing Lawyers, § 14(1) (“A relationship between client and lawyer arises when … a person expresses to a lawyer his or her intention that the lawyer provide legal services; and (a) the person`s attorney consents; or (b) the lawyer fails to demonstrate the absence of consent to do so, and the lawyer knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the person reasonably relies on the lawyer to provide the Services”).

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