Due to changes in technology and the 2009 adoption of Rules of Professional Conduct, legal authorities agreed that the Statement of Client’s Rights and Responsibilities needed to be revisited and updated to reflect those changes. Changes to the document were proposed by the Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct and approved by the State Bar’s House of Delegates on June 2012. The revisions to the statement, which all New York lawyers are required to post in their offices, were put into effect in April 2013 by the New York’s four Appellate Divisions.
Among the changes to the Statement of Client Rights is additional language explaining that clients are entitled to reasonable fees and expenses. In addition, the revisions ensure that clients need to be informed about fees and expenses before, or within a reasonable time after representation begins. To determine fairness of legal fees, clients are also entitled to request and receive a written itemized bill from their attorneys.
Client’s responsibilities were also updated. For instance, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) emphasized that clients are obligated to compensate their attorneys for legal services and expenses, even if an attorney has been discharged. However, NYSBA also clearly noted that there are circumstances when a client is not obligated to pay an attorney, such as when an attorney charges excessive fees.
The amendments to the Statement are important because they emphasize crucial issues in the attorney-client relationship. “While the amendments do not reflect significant substantive changes, it is important for the integrity of the client-attorney relationship that client rights and responsibilities be kept up to date and consistent with existing law,” said Joseph E. Neuhaus, chair of the Committee of Standards of Attorney Conduct.
*Source: Courts Adopt NYSBA Changes to Client Rights, Duty, State Bar News (July /Aug. 2013)