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What are a lawyer’s duties to his or her clients?

When clients retain your legal services, they have certain expectations about the quality of the work you will provide. Although you may not be able to guarantee certain case outcomes, you may commit to providing a certain level of diligence and thoroughness on every case.

The State Bar of California has established Rules of Professional Conduct designed to regulate the behavior of attorneys while practicing law. These rules apply to your level of competence as an attorney, the way you communicate with clients and the steps you take to protect the confidentiality of your clients.

Competence

As an attorney, you cannot negligently, recklessly or intentionally fail to provide competent legal services to your clients. If you do not possess the adequate skill or experience to competently help a client, you can consult with another attorney or acquire the necessary skills to effectively manage the client’s case.

Communication

You must maintain reasonable communication with your clients to provide them with updates on significant case developments. You should also promptly reply to requests for information from your clients.

Confidentiality

You cannot reveal information your clients have asked you to keep secret to other parties. You are also required to protect attorney-client privilege by not revealing sensitive information about your clients and their cases to others without consent.

If you do not maintain these duties to your clients, the State Bar could investigate your activities as a lawyer and put your ability to practice law at risk. When this occurs, you have the right to defend your actions and your right to work as a lawyer.

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