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What Duties does a Lawyer Owe to Their Client?

No matter who you are, there is a good chance at some stage in your personal or working life you will need to hire a lawyer for some reason or another. Due to the often sensitive nature of the information that lawyers possess, lawyers have certain duties that they owe to their clients as well. Whether you are a new lawyer or someone looking to hire a lawyer, here is what you need to know.

1.Duty to follow instructions

The lawyer you hire has a duty to follow your instructions, within reason. They cannot do anything illegal while carrying out your wishes, and they should not be wasting the courts time or covering up information. You can tell them what you wish the outcome to be, and your lawyer will try their best to achieve that.

Before they give you any legal advice though, it is imperative that you give them all the information of the case and do not lie. Lawyer advice can only be accurate based on what you tell them. After your lawyer gives you all the options and legal advice, it is your decision on which route to take.

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2. Duty of confidentiality

A lawyers duties include confidentiality. This means they are not allowed to discuss most of your conversations with anyone, including the police or courts. There are only a few situations where they are permitted to waive this rule:

  • a law may require them to
  • it could prevent a criminal offence
  • either your safety or someone else’s safety is at risk

3. Duty to avoid conflicts of interest

Lawyers should be acting with your interest at heart. So when situations arise where this is questioned, it is known as a conflict of interest. Some of the below are examples of this:

  • they have previously represented a party involved in your current legal case
  • they are representing the party against you at the same time
  • they’re good friends with the person or party against you

This is an important duty of the lawyer as it will hinder their ability to represent you effectively. This can lead to life changes consequences for you if you are not properly legally advised. If there is a conflict, the lawyer has the obligation to tell you. If you think they may have a conflict of interest, you should also talk to your lawyer.

4. Duty to communication

Your lawyer’s duties also include effective and timely communication. They should be updating you regularly throughout the case.

5. Duty to act honestly

A lawyer has the duty to act honestly and in your best interests. They should be advising you of the strength or weakness of your case and the likelihood that you win. This way you can be prepared and understand exactly what your consequences could be.

This would also allow you to make preparations for whatever you may need, depending on the outcome. However, some lawyers can be dishonest and not act in your interests. If you believe this is the case, you can always make a complaint.

6. Duty to act with skill

The lawyer you hire should be experienced in the field you have your case in. Before hiring, you should ask how many years experience they have in general and how many cases like yours they have worked on. Getting an idea of how adept your lawyer is will be important to the success of your case.


To conclude, there are quite a few duties that lawyers owe to their clients over the course of their representation. Put simply, they are here to put your interests first and act diligently for you, but also maintain the law.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

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