When it comes to litigation and making decisions, what is the true role of a lawyer?
Lawyers are becoming increasingly encouraged to tell their clients to opt for settlements, and avoid court at all costs. However, most of the time, lawyers don’t have the whole context and it’s the client who actually knows what is in their best interest.
The truth is, clients come to lawyers for legal advice, and not anything else (most of the time). They want lawyers to help them to understand the system, as well as their prospects and options, and they want to have an idea of what’s going on.
It’s the lawyer’s job to reasonably inform and explain to clients about the costs and risks of litigation; the benefits and likelihood of settling at mediation (or other alternative dispute resolution procedures), and the emotional/business/opportunity cost of litigation, based on our experience.
With that information on the table, lawyers must ensure that their clients are making free and informed decisions. Trying to persuade clients to make a certain choice can be manipulating and unethical.
Lawyers can, and should, of course give advice, but not make the clients’ decisions for them. Once the client has made a decision, it is the lawyer’s job to respect it. As long as their instructions are not being unethical or unlawful, the attorney’s job is to put those instructions into action.