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RULE 19-301.3. DILIGENCE (1.3)

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 19-301.3
RULE 19-301.3. DILIGENCE (1.3)
An attorney shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
COMMENT
[1] An attorney should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the attorney, and may take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client's cause or endeavor. An attorney must also act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client's behalf. An attorney is not bound, however, to press for every advantage that might be realized for a client. For example, an attorney may have authority to exercise professional discretion in determining the means by which a matter should be pursued. See Rule 19-301.2 (1.2). The attorney's duty to act with reasonable diligence does not require the use of offensive tactics or permit treating any person involved in the legal process without courtesy and respect.
[2] An attorney's workload must be controlled so that each matter can be handled competently.
[3] Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. A client's interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time or the change of conditions; in extreme instances, as when an attorney overlooks a statute of limitations, the client's legal position may be destroyed. Even when the client's interests are not affected in substance, however, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the attorney's trustworthiness. An attorney's duty to act with reasonable promptness, however, does not preclude the attorney from agreeing to a reasonable request for a postponement that will not prejudice the attorney's client.
[4] Unless the relationship is terminated as provided in Rule 19-301.16 (1.16), an attorney should carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client. If an attorney's employment is limited to a specific matter, the relationship terminates when the matter has been resolved. If an attorney has served a client over a substantial period in a variety of matters, the client sometimes may assume that the attorney will continue to serve on a continuing basis unless the attorney gives notice of withdrawal. Doubt about whether a client-attorney relationship still exists should be clarified by the attorney, preferably in writing, so that the client will not mistakenly suppose the attorney is looking after the client's affairs when the attorney has ceased to do so. For example, if an attorney has handled a judicial or administrative proceeding that produced a result adverse to the client and the attorney and client have not agreed that the attorney will handle the matter on appeal, the attorney must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal before relinquishing responsibility for the matter. See Rule 19-301.4 (1.4). Similarly, the attorney must inform the client if, following a result favorable to the client, another party files an appeal. Whether the attorney is obligated to prosecute the appeal for the client depends on the scope of the representation the attorney has agreed to provide to the client. See Rule 19-301.2 (1.2).
[5] To prevent neglect of client matters in the event of a sole practitioner's death or disability, the duty of diligence may require that each sole practitioner prepare a plan, in conformity with applicable rules, that designates another competent attorney to review client files, notify each client of the attorney's death or disability, and determine whether there is a need for immediate protective action. Cf. Md. Rule 19-734 (providing for appointment of a conservator to inventory the files of an attorney who is deceased or has abandoned the practice of law, and to take other appropriate action to protect the attorney's clients in the absence of a plan to protect clients' interests).
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-301.3 (1.3) is substantially similar to the language of the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct except for Comment [5], which incorporates Maryland law.

Credits

[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-301.3, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-301.3
Current with amendments received through June 15, 2020.
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