What is failure to communicate?

Attorneys have certain responsibilities to their clients, and one of the most important is clear communication. It can be stressful and difficult to go through the legal system if you are not familiar with it as a layperson; it is the job of your attorney to give you good advice and keep you informed.

Failure to do this is a form of legal malpractice called “failure to communicate.” According to FindLaw, the law does not authorize your lawyer to compromise your claims without explicit consent from you.

What does it mean to “compromise a claim?”

In many situations, parties involved in a dispute decide to mediate or arbitrate as opposed to litigate. This may mean that you choose to accept a settlement as opposed to take your specific claim to court. This is a very common outcome in civil cases, largely because litigating is expensive and time-consuming.

However, the choice to settle rather than litigate lies with you, not your lawyer. Your lawyer should certainly advise you as to the best path to take with your particular case; this may indeed be accepting a settlement. However, again, this final decision is up to you. Your lawyer cannot make this decision without your explicit consent.

What are my other rights?

Your lawyer must also inform you of any attempts the other party makes to settle. You do not have to accept a settlement that the other party offers, but you need to be aware that the offer exists. You should also be fully informed regarding your case status. If you wait months and do not hear at all from your lawyer, this may be failure to communicate.