Is it ethical for a lawyer act on behalf of their client without their clients permission or ignore their clients questions?

Is it ethical for a lawyer to file a lawsuit on behalf of their client for a specific amount without the lawyer getting the approval of their client about what that specific amount should be?

Is it ethical for a lawyer to refuse to answer any of their clients questions via email or telephone and insist on only answering questions in person, even if the client is unable to meet in person?

Can lawsuits be amended/can the amount that the plaintiff is suing for be changed after they are filed?

Asked on December 29, 2017 under Personal Injury, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not ethical for an attorney to file a lawsuit for an amount not approved or authorized by the client. It is also unethical to not respond to questions by phone or email--the lawyer can certainly recommend (even strongly) a face-to-face meeting if (s)he thinks that would be more productive or helpful, but that's all the attorney can do: recommend it. At the end of the day, the lawyer *must* answer the client's questions.
Remember: the lawyer works for the client, and the case is the client's case--the client controls it.
As to amending a lawsuit: yes, subject to any restrictions in the court rules about when you can amend a lawsuit, how to amend it, etc., the lawsuit (the complaint) may be amended, including changing the amount filed for. (Generally, the complaint may be amended at will before the other side has filed its answer; after that, it usually requires court permission, but courts typically grant such persmission.)


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