What Are a Client’s Responsibilities?

Written by Troy Marsh |

What are a client’s responsibilities, if any, with respect to her lawyer?  In other words, what is your role as a client? Just like you reasonably expect certain things of your lawyer, your lawyer has the right to expect certain things of you, as a client. According to Lawyers.com, your role as client means that you should “review the retainer agreement that you may have signed when your hired your lawyer. Typically, these agreements will set out certain duties and responsibilities of the client. By signing the agreement, you’re contractually bound by them. Such duties and responsibilities may include being:

  • Truthful with your lawyer
  • Cooperative with and responsive to your lawyer
  • Available to your lawyer and attending legal proceedings, as requested
  • On time with paying your legal bills in a timely manner

These duties and responsibilities may be implied even without a retainer agreement that expressly commits them to writing.  Regardless, a failure follow them may result in a lawyer terminating the relationship.” Using the statements promulgated by the Rhode Island Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the New Mexico State Bar Association for guidance, and in conformance with the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, I respectfully submit the following:




1. The client is expected to treat the lawyer and the lawyer’s staff with courtesy and consideration.

2. You must tell your lawyer all facts relating to your matter, including any new facts or circumstances that may affect your case as they arise, even if they seem unimportant or are damaging to your case or unflattering to you.  With all the relevant information, your attorney may be able to develop a strategy to defuse any potentially damaging issues.

3. You must honor the fee arrangement as agreed to with the lawyer to the extent required by law.

4. You must pay your bills for all work that has been performed and pay for costs advanced for you.  If you have any questions about your bill, you will discuss them with your attorney.

5. A client who discharges the attorney and terminates the attorney-client relationship must nevertheless honor financial commitments under the agreed to arrangement regarding fees and expenses to the extent required by law.

6. Although the client should expect that his or her letters, telephone calls, emails, faxes, and other communications to the lawyer will be answered within a reasonable time, the client should recognize that the lawyer has other clients who may be equally deserving of the lawyer’s time and attention.

7. The client should maintain contact with the lawyer, promptly notify the lawyer of any change in telephone number, address, email, or other electronic contact information, and respond promptly to a request by the lawyer for information and cooperation.

8. The client must realize that the lawyer is required to respect only legitimate objectives of the client and that the lawyer will not advocate or propose positions that are unprofessional or contrary to law or the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.

9. The lawyer may decline to accept a matter if the lawyer has previous personal or professional commitments that will prohibit the lawyer from devoting adequate time to representing the client competently and diligently.

10. A lawyer is under no obligation to accept a client if the lawyer determines that the cause of the client is without merit, a conflict of interest would exist or a suitable working relationship with the client is not likely.