We lawyers are good at making declarations.
We make declarations in court. We make declarations in pleadings. We make self-serving declarations and declarations against interest. We help clients declare their innocence. We help others declare bankruptcy.
We declare truths to be self-evident. We declare our independence. We’ve got declarations coming out of our ears.
But when it comes to making certain declarations to our clients – like our obligation to charge a fair fee and return phone calls promptly – maybe not so much.
ABA Declaration of Commitment to Clients
Pretend you are a client. It’s the first time you’ve ever been to a lawyer. You’re nervous. You’ve heard all the jokes. You’ve listened to the horror stories.
You walk into the lawyer’s office – or visit their website – and the first thing you see is the following Declaration of Commitment … to You!
Perhaps it’s framed on the wall in the waiting room or on a laminated card in the magazine rack. Maybe it’s included in a packet of introductory information about the firm. Or it’s prominently displayed on the home page of the website.
Here is what it says:
My Declaration of Commitment to Clients
- To treat you with respect and courtesy.
- To handle your legal matter competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the profession.
- To exercise independent professional judgment on your behalf.
- To charge a reasonable fee and to explain in advance how that fee will be computed and billed.
- To return telephone calls promptly.
- To keep you informed and provide you with copies of important papers.
- To respect your decisions on the objectives to be pursued in your case, as permitted by law and the rules of professional conduct, including whether or not to settle your case.
- To work with other participants in the legal system to make our legal system more accessible and responsive.
- To preserve the client confidences learned during our lawyer-client relationship.
- To exhibit the highest degree of ethical conduct in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility/Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
After reading this, how would you feel? Impressed? Encouraged? In good hands?
Click here and you will find the ABA declaration on the web page for the NC Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel. You can find the same thing on the home page of private law firms such as this one here and here.
Contact Lawyers Mutual for a copy of this declaration. Display it proudly. Live up to its promises. Then sit back and watch all the good things that will come your way.
Source: NC Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel https://www.ncbar.com/lamp/index.asp https://www.ncbar.com/lamp/index.asp
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney who has practiced North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.