Co-Counsel Agreements Between An Attorney and Client

Although co-counsel agreements are typically done in the best interest of the client, there are a number of ways a client may react. Below, a DC injury lawyer discusses these reactions and how any attorney should discuss a potential co-counsel agreement with their client.

Discussing a Potential Co-Counsel Agreement

The main factor is that the co-counsel agreements are discussed with the client. If it is determined that co-counsel is necessary, than that issue should be brought to the client’s attention right away.

Reaction of Clients to Co-Counsel Agreements

Clients react in a number of ways. The nature of their reaction really depends upon the nature of the case and the nature of the client’s involvement in the case. If a client is a professional client who is familiar with the issues that are at issue, then the client will likely understand the necessity to bring on co-counsel.

For example, if the client is a business client, and has been sued in a professional capacity, then the client may have retained our firm as a litigation firm to handle the litigation, and at the same time we may enter into an agreement with co-counsel to advise on certain financial aspects of the case, such as tax issues, etc. In this scenario, the client may already have a tax attorney and may feel comfortable in bringing on co-counsel.

Conversely, some clients may not understand why co-counsel is being brought into the case. Typically, a client in that scenario may have a lot of questions about why co-counsel is necessary, what their role will be in the case, how they will be paid, how much they will be paid, when they will be paid, etc. It is incumbent upon the attorney to address these issue with his/her client and do his best to move forward with the case.

Overall, the manner in which clients react to the suggestion of engaging co-counsel really depends on the nature of the client, the nature of the case, and the reason co-counsel is necessary.

Responding To Clients Who React Negatively

The best way to handle a situation where clients react negatively is simply to try and explain to the client that it’s in his best interest to engage in a co-counsel agreement.

Again, the attorneys’ job is to act in the client’s best interest.  If the attorney determines that co-counsel is necessary to perform some specific task in the case that is in the client’s best interest, then the attorney should do her best to explain to the client why it’s in the client’s best interest and how it can ultimately maximize the recovery or otherwise help the case.

How to React if a Client Refuses

In that scenario, it really depends upon the specific facts of that case. If the attorney involved in the case is not able to adequately represent the client’s interest without the assistance of co-counsel, then the attorney should seriously consider withdrawing from the case.

The attorney-client relationship is a voluntary relationship. If the client and the attorney no longer agree on the manner in which that case should be presented, then it would seem that the attorney should seriously consider withdrawing from the case.

Co-Counsel and Referrals