May 23, 2014

Path to Professionalism

"Please return my call"

by D. Holthus, Poling Law

The Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct do, indeed, specifically address the matter of client communication and more pointedly, the retuning of client telephone calls.

Rule 1.3 (Diligence) of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct provides “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”

Comment no.3 to Rule 1.3 suggests “Delay and neglect are inconsistent with a lawyer’s duty of diligence, undermine public confidence, and may prejudice a client’s cause. Reasonable diligence and promptness are expected of a lawyer in handling all client matters and will be evaluated in light of all reasonable circumstances. The lawyer disciplinary process is particularly concerned with lawyers who consistently fail to carry out obligations to clients or concisely disregard a duty owed to a client. (Emphasis added.)

In relevant part, Rule 1.4 (Communication) of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct provides “(a) A lawyer shall do all of the following (1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent is required by these rules; (2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished; (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter; (4) comply as soon as practicable with reasonable requests for information from the client….”

Comment no.4 to Rule 1.4 specifically recognizes that “A lawyer’s regular communication with clients will minimize the occasions on which a client will need to request information concerning the representation. When a client makes a reasonable request for information, however, division (a)(4) requires prompt compliance with the request, or if a prompt response is not feasible, that the lawyer, or a member of the lawyer’s staff, acknowledge receipt of the request and advise the client when a response may be expected. Client telephone call should be promptly returned or acknowledged. (Emphasis added.)

Let’s all avoid possible heartache, disregard any subjective potential headache and return those calls. It’s required by Rule. Just as important, it bespeaks professionalism and common courtesy.