Randy Johnston Asks: When Clients Make Bad Decisions: What’s a Lawyer’s Duty?

Across Texas, lawyer Randy Johnston is recognized as a pioneer who specializes in legal ethics and the prosecution and defense of lawsuits related to claims of legal malpractice.  In a recent commentary, published in the Texas Lawbook, Johnston reveals that two of his most significant losses involved allegations that a lawyer failed to adequately discourage a client’s bad decision.

According to Johnston, the ethical rules guiding lawyer conduct are somewhat murky in this area.  While they direct lawyers to exercise independent judgment, offer candid advice, and explain matters thoroughly so that a client can make informed decisions, the ethical rules don’t expressly direct lawyers to advise clients when their decisions are wrong.  However, when things go wrong, clients often turn on their lawyers and sue them for legal malpractice.

In his commentary, Johnston advises all lawyers to be aggressive in confronting bad decisions by clients by establishing a standard of care premised on the question: What would the lawyer do if he or she was working on a contingent fee?   He says that in most scenarios that guidance will prevent lawyers from acquiescing to tactics or strategies they know are wrong.  Mr. Johnston’s insightful commentary can be found by clicking here.

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