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RULE 19-301.4. COMMUNICATION (1.4)

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 19. Attorneys
Chapter 300. Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct
Client-Attorney Relationship [Rules 19-301.1 to 19-301.18]
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-301.4
RULE 19-301.4. COMMUNICATION (1.4)
(a) An attorney shall:
(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent, as defined in Rule 19-301.0 (f) (1.0), is required by these Rules;
(2) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
(3) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
(4) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the attorney's conduct when the attorney knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(b) An attorney shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
COMMENT
[1] Reasonable communication between the attorney and the client is necessary for the client effectively to participate in the representation.
Communicating with Client--[2] If these Rules require that a particular decision about the representation be made by the client, subsection (a)(1) of this Rule requires that the attorney promptly consult with and secure the client's consent prior to taking action unless prior discussions with the client have resolved what action the client wants the attorney to take. For example, an attorney who receives from an opposing attorney an offer of settlement in a civil controversy or a proffered plea bargain in a criminal case must promptly inform the client of its substance unless the client has previously indicated that the proposal will be acceptable or unacceptable or has authorized the attorney to accept or to reject the offer. See Rule 19-301.2 (a) (1.2).
[3] Under Rule 19-301.2 (a) (1.2), an attorney is required, when appropriate, to consult with the client about the means to be used to accomplish the client's objectives. In some situations--depending on both the importance of the action under consideration and the feasibility of consulting with the client--this duty will require consultation prior to taking action. In other circumstances, such as during a trial when an immediate decision must be made, the exigency of the situation may require the attorney to act without prior consultation. In such cases the attorney must nonetheless act reasonably to inform the client of actions the attorney has taken on the client's behalf. Additionally, subsection (a)(2) of this Rule requires that the attorney keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, such as significant developments affecting the timing or the substance of the representation.
[4] An attorney's regular communication with clients will minimize the occasions on which a client will need to request information concerning the representation. When a client makes a reasonable request for information, however, subsection (a)(3) of this Rule requires prompt compliance with the request, or if a prompt response is not feasible, that the attorney, or a member of the attorney's staff, acknowledge receipt of the request and advise the client when a response may be expected. Client telephone calls should be promptly returned or acknowledged.
Explaining Matters--[5] The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, to the extent the client is willing and able to do so. Adequacy of communication depends in part on the kind of advice or assistance that is involved. For example, where there is time to explain a proposal made in a negotiation, the attorney should review all important provisions with the client before proceeding to an agreement. In litigation an attorney should explain the general strategy and prospects of success and ordinarily should consult the client on tactics that are likely to result in significant expense or to injure or coerce others. On the other hand, an attorney ordinarily will not be expected to describe trial or negotiation strategy in detail. The guiding principle is that the attorney should fulfill reasonable client expectations for information consistent with the duty to act in the client's best interests, and the client's overall requirements as to the character of representation. In certain circumstances, such as when an attorney asks a client to consent to a representation affected by a conflict of interest, the client must give informed consent, as defined in Rule 19-301.0 (f) (1.0).
[6] Ordinarily, the information to be provided is that appropriate for a client who is a comprehending and responsible adult. However, fully informing the client according to this standard may be impracticable, for example, where the client is a child or suffers from diminished capacity. See Rule 19-301.14 (1.14). When the client is an organization or group, it is often impossible or inappropriate to inform every one of its members about its legal affairs; ordinarily, the attorney should address communications to the appropriate officials of the organization. See Rule 19-301.13 (1.13). Where many routine matters are involved, a system of limited or occasional reporting may be arranged with the client.
Withholding Information--[7] In some circumstances, an attorney may be justified in delaying transmission of information when the client would be likely to react imprudently to an immediate communication. Thus, an attorney might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client. An attorney may not withhold information to serve the attorney's own interest or convenience or the interests or convenience of another person. Rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to an attorney may not be disclosed to the client. Rule 19-303.4 (c) (3.4) directs compliance with such rules or orders.
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-301.4 (1.4) is substantially similar to the language of the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct except for the deletion of Model Rule 1.4 (a)(2) and the redesignation of subsections as appropriate, and wording changes to Comment [3].

Credits

[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-301.4, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-301.4
Current with amendments received through December 15, 2019.
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