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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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