"WHO'S IN CHARGE"?
 


   The client is, in a very real sense, the boss in the law office. It is the client who must make the major decisions in his or her case. This is for two reasons.

    First, the Rules of Professional Conduct require the lawyer to leave these to the client. The ethical duty of a lawyer is to inform a client of the important issues and consequences and then let the client make the major choices in his or her case. The canons of ethics under which lawyers operate impose this duty on us.

    The second reason is that, in reality, it is your case and not the attorney's. It is your obligation to decide these matters which so vitally involve you. The lawyer has no business in telling you, for instance, what is "enough child support" for you to receive or whether you should pay alimony or not. It is you (in these examples) who would be receiving the child support or paying the alimony, not the lawyer. While the lawyer's guidance is important, it is you that must make such major decisions as these.

    At the same time, there are other matters which must be decided by the lawyer in your case. These are not major policy decisions, but rather tactical decisions that our training in the law helps us make. Issues such as how to question a witness, what approach to use in the argument to the judge or jury, or what motions to present to the court ought to be made by your lawyer. You are free, of course, to ask us about these matters or to give suggestions or offer criticism. In the final analysis, these tactical decisions should be made by the lawyer using his best judgment, just as the major policy decisions ought to be made by you, with the guidance and information provided by us.

          

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