Vol. 80 No. 9. Avoiding Client Ethics Complaints by Communicating Properly and Acting Diligently.

Author:By Stanton A. Hazlett
 
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Kansas Bar Journal

Ethics Columns.

2011.

Vol. 80 No. 9.

Avoiding Client Ethics Complaints by Communicating Properly and Acting Diligently

Kansas Bar Journal Volume 80, September 2011 80 J. Kan. Bar Assn 9, 12 (2011) Avoiding Client Ethics Complaints by Communicating Properly and Acting Diligently By Stanton A. Hazlett [12]

The Office of the Disciplinary Administrator receives approximately 1,000 complaints against lawyers every year. About 60 percent of those complaints are filed by clients of the attorney. A substantial percentage of those complaints will contain an allegation that a lawyer has not communicated properly, has not acted diligently, or has failed in both respects. Clients have little tolerance for a lawyer who does not return phone calls or perform tasks in a timely fashion. KRPCs 1.3 (diligence) and 1.4 (communications) set out a lawyer's obligations to a client in these two areas. These two rules are the rules most often violated by Kansas lawyers.

Lawyers can take steps to reduce the possibility of a complaint being filed against them for lack of diligence and communication by following a few simple tips. This guidance is not foolproof. Our experience has shown that difficult or distressed clients often file non-meritorious complaints no matter how attentive the lawyer has been.

KRPC 1.3 states that a lawyer shall "act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." The comment to KRPC 1.3 states the following:

Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. A client's interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time, by the change of conditions; in extreme instances as when a lawyer overlooks a statute of limitations, the client's legal position may be destroyed. Even when the client's interests are not affected in substance, however, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyer's trust worthiness.

Clients retain lawyers to solve a dilemma for them. Unreasonable delay causes anxiety for the client. If there is not an appropriate explanation for the delay then the client is likely to terminate the services of the lawyer and in many instances file a complaint with the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator. If there is not sufficient time to handle a case for a client...

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