The Client-Lawyer Relationship

Background & Philosophy
Legal Heritage & Education
© 2011 Charles L. Black Aycock
  • In  Texas, the Client-Lawyer relationship is a
    contractual relationship, whereby the Lawyer agrees
    to render professional services for the Client, see
    Yaklin vs Glusing, Sharpe & Kreuger, 875 S.W.2d 380,
    385 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 1994, no pet).

  • In Texas a fiduciary relationship exists between
    Client and Lawyer and the Lawyer is obligated to
    render a full and fair disclosure of all facts material to
    the Client's representation, see Willis v. Maverick, 760
    S.W.2d 642, 645 (Tex.1988).
In matters within the scope of the representation, generally, a Lawyer must:
    (1) proceed in a manner reasonably calculated to advance a Client's lawful objectives, as defined
    by the Client after consultation;
    (2) act with reasonable competence and diligence;
    (3) comply with obligations concerning the Client's confidences and property, avoid
    impermissible conflicting interests, deal honestly with the Client and not employ advantages
    arising from the Client- Lawyer relationship in a manner adverse to the client; and
    (4) fulfill valid contractual obligations to the Client,
see the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers (American Law Institute, 2000-the
Generally, the Client owes the Lawyer the same duties the Client owes third persons, such as the duty
to avoid actionable misrepresentation, See the Restatement, Comment a to §17. In matters within the
scope of the representation, generally, the Client must:
    (1) compensate the Lawyer for services and expenses;
    (2) indemnify the Lawyer for liability to which the Client has exposed the Lawyer without the
    Lawyer's fault; and
    (3) fulfill any valid contractual obligations to the Lawyer,
See the Restatement, §17
As to Client-Lawyer Contracts, generally:
    (1) A contract between a Lawyer and Client concerning the Client-Lawyer relationship, including
    a contract modifying an existing contract, may be enforced by either party if the contract meets
    other applicable requirements, except that:
    (a) if the contract or modification is made beyond a reasonable time after the Lawyer has
    begun to represent the Client the Client may avoid the contract unless the Lawyer shows
    that the contract and the circumstances of its formation were fair and reasonable to the
    Client; and
    (b) if the contract is made after the Lawyer has finished providing services, the Client may
    avoid the contract if the Client was not informed of facts needed to evaluate the
    appropriateness of the Lawyer's compensation or other benefits conferred on the Lawyer
    by the contract.
    (2) A tribunal should construe a contract between Client and Lawyer as a reasonable person in
    the circumstances of the Client would have construed it.
See the Restatement, §18
As to Agreements Limiting Client's or Lawyer's Duties, generally:
    (1) Client and Lawyer may agree to limit a duty that the Lawyer would otherwise owe to the
    Client if:
    (a) the Client is adequately informed and consents;
    (b) the terms of the limitation are reasonable in the circumstances.
    (2) the Lawyer may agree to waive the Client's duty to pay or other duty owed to the Lawyer.
See the Restatement, §19
    (1) the Lawyer must keep the Client reasonably informed about the matter and must
    consult with the Client to a reasonable extent concerning decisions to be made by the
    (2) the Lawyer must promptly comply with the Client's reasonable requests for
    (3) the Lawyer must notify the Client of decisions to be made by the Client and must
    explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the Client to make .informed
    decisions regarding the representation.
See the Restatement, §20
In regard to allocating the Authority to Make Decisions Between the Client and the Lawyer,
    (1) the Client and the Iawyer may agree which of them will make specified decisions, and
    the agreement may be superseded by another valid agreement.
    (3) Subject to (1) and (2) the Lawyer may take any lawful measure within the scope of
    representation reasonably calculated to advance the Client's objectives as defined by the
    Client, consulting with the Client
    (4) the Client may ratify an act of the Lawyer that was not previously authorized, See the
Restatement, §21
As to authority Reserved to the Client, generally:
    (1) As between Client and Lawyer, the following and comparable decisions are reserved
    to the Client except when the Client has validly authorized the Lawyer to make the
    particular decision:
    (a) whether and on what terms to settle a claim;
    (b) how a criminal defendant should plead;
    (c) whether a criminal defendant should waive jury trial;
    (d) whether a criminal defendant should testify; and
    (e) whether to appeal in a civil proceeding or criminal prosecution.
    (2) The Client may not validly authorize the Lawyer to make the decisions described in
    Subsection (1) when other law (such as criminal-procedure rules governing pleas, jury-
    trial waiver, and defendant testimony) requires the Client's personal participation or
    (3) Regardless of any contrary contract with the Lawyer, the Client may revoke the
    Lawyer's authority to make the decisions described in Subsection (1).
Restatement, §22
As between .Client and Lawyer, the Lawyer retains authority that may not be overridden by a
contract with or an instruction from the Client:
    (1) to refuse to perform, counsel, or, assist ,future or ongoing acts in the representation
    that the Lawyer reasonably believes to be unlawful;
    (2) to make decisions or take actions in the representation that the Lawyer reasonably
    believes to be required by law or an order of a tribunal.
Restatement, §23