If you are aware of what to expect in your lawyer/client relationship you have a better chance of avoiding conflicts and successfully reaching your objectives.

As officers of the court, lawyers are held to the highest ethical standards. In our current legal system the lawyer/client relationship has long been accepted as one of fiduciary in nature. To simplify this, the term ‘fiduciary’ refers to ideas of trust and loyalty. You should be able to put your total trust and confidence in the hands of the lawyer whose assistance is required in a matter.

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First and foremost, lawyers are required to disclose to you the ways in which you will be charged and your general rights. In addition to this, lawyers must comply to their legal obligations. As officers or stewards of the court, lawyers must obey the law in their client relationships, whilst also upholding efficiency and the proper administration of justice.

Lawyers should avoid any potential conflicts with their clients. In this way, any possible personal/financial interests in a matter should be avoided. For example, Lawyers are advised against acting for friends/family as objectivity is less likely. The Solicitors Rules, specifically rule 4.1.1 requires that lawyers are to ‘act in the best interests of a client in any matter in which the lawyer represents them”.

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The fiduciary standard is so high that if breached professional disciplinary proceedings will and can be commenced against lawyers. The lawyer’s duty to their client is often held to a higher standard of care than that required in torts or contracts. For this reason, Law Societies have statutory obligations to maintain and improve the professional standards of lawyers.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.