LAWYER’S DUTIES TO CLIENT
COMPETENCE (Rule 1.1)
Legal knowledge; Skill; Thoroughness; Preparation.
(Must not take on a matter an attorney knows he is not competent
 Factors include relative complexity and specialized nature,
lawyer’s general experience in the field, the preparation and
study the lawyer is prepared to give, and feasibility of referral
to attorney of established competence in the field.
 A lawyer can provide competent representation in a wholly
novel field through necessary study.
 In an emergency a lawyer may give limited advice on a
matter in which he does not have the skill ordinarily required.
 Adequate preparation.
-The Rules in one area forbid the lawyer from asking the client to
agree to incompetent representation. Rule 1.2, Comment 5.
However, later the Rules make clear that, if other law permits,
the lawyer may make an agreement “prospectively limiting the
lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice” if the client “is
independently represented in making the agreement…” Rule 1.8(h).
DILIGENCE (RULE 1.3)
Shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness.
 Discretion in determining means by which matter is pursued;
Lawyer need not press for every advantage.
 No procrastination (i.e., overlook statute if limitations).
 Unless relationship terminated (Rule 1.16), lawyer should
carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client.
CONFIDENTIALITY (RULE 1.6)
(a) Absent consent of client, must not reveal information
pertaining to client, except that impliedly necessary to carry out
(b) May reveal to extent believes reasonably necessary to:
(1) prevent criminal act he believes likely to result in
imminent death or substantial bodily harm.
(2) to establish claim or defense for controversy with
client; to defend civil claim or criminal charge against lawyer
for client-based conduct.
 Rule encourages full and frank communication;
 Public is better protected if full and open communication encouraged.
 Lawyers in firm, in course of practice may disclose
confidences unless client instructs otherwise.
 May not assist or counsel in criminal or fraudulent
conduct; If services so used, lawyer must withdraw (Rule
[13 & 17] Any necessary disclosure no greater than lawyer
believes reasonably necessary.
 Duty of confidentiality continues after relationship
-EXCEPTIONS: if client consents, when other provisions in the
Rules permit disclosure (see Rule
to possess file;
(4) consent presumed of silence.
If no actual notice possible, court order required. In camera
disclosure okay to extent necessary to obtain authorization.
(d) fees shall not increase due to sale, but new lawyer may
require client to pay fees not exceeding pre-sale feed for
substantially similar services.
 Practice of law profession; clients are not mere
commodities that can be purchased and sold.
 return to private practice after unanticipated change in
circumstances not a violation.
 Some states so large move from tantamount to leaving
 Single purchaser requirement protects clients with less
lucrative matters who might find it hard to secure their counsel.
ATTORNEY AS WITNESS (RULE 3.7)
(a) Can’t be advocate if likely to be witness, except if:
(1) uncontested issue;
(2) about nature and value of legal services rendered;
(3) disqualification = substantial hardship for client.
(b) Okay to be advocate where another firm lawyer likely to be
witness unless precluded by rules 1.7 or 1.9.