An attorney plays different roles in the society, and it is a professional obligation to ensure that he discharges these duties zealously. In principal, a lawyer has a duty to his client, the society, and the court. The duty to the court requires the attorney observes the rules of the court this include adherence to the stipulated dress code and abstinence from acting in a manner that is contempt of the court. The duty to the society entails the responsibility of the lawyer oversee public awareness of their human rights. Also, a lawyer is mandated to take up pro bono cases that are considered as a gesture of goodwill and an effort to promote justice in the society.
However, an attorney’s fundamental duty is towards his client. The relationship between a lawyer and his client is considered to be a fiduciary, contractual and agency relationship. The ethical obligations are legally enshrined in common law, statutes, codes of conducts and ethics and general principles. In this regard, this article will aim to articulate the essential duties and obligations of an advocate towards his client.
During the subsistence of the attorney/client relationship, the advocate is bound by law to withhold any type of information exchanged from a third party. The attorney shall only disclose such information with the express consent of his client. The attorney-client privilege extends to a wider scope to include clerks and other employees of the attorney that were privy to critical information during the relationship.
Honesty and good faith
In essence, this duty requires that the attorney must always protect the interests of his clients. The interests of the client must always take precedent over anyones including those of the attorney himself. Abstinence of matters that may create a conflict of interests are ways through which an attorney exercises good faith.
A lawyer is trained and equipped with adequate skills to represent different clients effectively. Therefore the attorney is ethically bound to exercise due skill, knowledge, and diligence to advance the interests of his clients competently. A client that suffers from the incompetence of an attorney can lodge a complaint that may lead to the disbarment of the attorney on record.
An advocate on record must always endeavor to disclose profits that accrue from the subject matter. The lawyer must always present accounts showing the money that has been received on his behalf as well as the money used in furtherance of the case.