Many people are often hesitant to hire an attorney, even when they’re in a tough spot and at a time when a lawyer could really help.
There can be a lot of mistrust—not only of attorneys, but of the entire legal system. The legal system is designed to help people resolve disputes and ensure that society as a whole functions smoothly by allowing people to seek redress for wrongs against them. An attorney serves as your representative in that system, as well as a negotiator, intermediary, and spokesperson on your behalf, serving to protect your interests and uphold the law. Without trust, that relationship crumbles.
Here’s what you should know about the ethical rules that lawyers must follow, and how to choose an attorney you can trust when you need legal help after an injury.
Ethical Rules for Attorneys
Your attorney is your guide into the legal world when you have a problem, and it’s absolutely critical that you choose an attorney that you can trust from day one to get the job done the right way, with respect to the client, the legal system, and the law as a whole. You don’t have to be “best friends” with your attorney, but it is vital that you have a level of professional trust in order for your relationship to function smoothly.
While Hollywood may think that stories of unethical lawyers make for great entertainment, in the real world there are actually strict rules that all attorneys must follow with regard to ethics or face serious legal consequences. The American Bar Association maintains a set of model rules of professional conduct that state bar associations may use when developing their own ethical guidelines; ultimately, it’s up to each state to determine what exactly those rules are. In Texas, they are laid out by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which can be found on the State Bar of Texas website. You can also look up any attorney on that website to make sure that his or her license to practice is current and valid, what his or her practice areas are, and see if there are any public disciplinary actions that have been taken against him or her.
The complete list of ethics rules for the legal profession can be complex if you’re not in the field. However, there are a few key responsibilities that all attorneys have that are easy to understand, and that you should be aware of when you pick an attorney to represent you. Your attorney should always:
- Be competent in the area of law in which you seek representation.
- Diligently represent each and every client individually.
- Pursue your legal interests zealously, but within the bounds of the law.
- Provide you with a clear understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities.
- Maintain confidentiality of every client.
- Avoid any conflicts of interest and notify clients should one arise.
- Have respect for the legal system, including other legal professionals.
- Seek to uphold and improve the law and the quality of legal services.
Serious violation of the state’s rules of conduct can carry severe punishment for an attorney, including a temporary suspension of the ability to practice law. In more extreme situations, violating the rules can lead to permanent disbarment. This means the lawyer’s license to practice law is permanently revoked, effectively ending the attorney’s career.
Choosing the Right Attorney for You
Whether you already have an attorney or you’re preparing to choose someone to represent you, if you don’t feel as if he or she is upholding the ethical standards of the profession, it’s time to walk away and find someone who will. Never feel like you have to settle for less than the best representative for your legal needs, because ultimately, it’s your interests that are at stake.
Wayne Wright LLP has spent decades fighting for the rights of those who have been injured. Our skilled personal injury attorneys bring years of legal experience and the highest ethical standards to bear when representing each and every one of our clients, and we’re here to help you when you need a lawyer by your side. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a law firm that you can rely on, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.