Wouldn’t it be great if our children always took our advice? We try to steer them in the right direction, but sometimes they insist on doing things their own way. Like my 14-year old son who, despite the obvious superiority of Star Trek in the sci-fi realm, thinks Lord of the Rings ranks. Oh, rebellious youth.
We don’t always see eye-to-eye with clients either. Although we (like parents) can counsel them on strategy, they (like kids of a certain age) often get the last word. Model Rule 1.2 provides that, generally, “a lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objective of representation.” Of course, a lawyer may not follow a client’s instruction (and must withdraw) if it would violate a law or rule of professional conduct. But beyond that, we don’t get to impose our will on clients.
That said, if a client chooses to disregard our advice, it’s a good idea to confirm that in writing. That way, there’s no confusion over whose decision it was if things don’t go as planned. And if the client persists in ignoring our advice, or there is a fundamental disagreement over how the matter should be handled, we may need to consider withdrawal.
Thankfully, we can’t withdraw from our fatherly (or motherly) roles. And while my son and I still don’t agree on Trek v. Rings, we’ve been working to bridge the gap. Imagine my delight when I discovered (courtesy of one of our partners) the perfect intersection of our interests: a music video of Mr. Spock singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. Despite its freakishness (actually, because of it), it was the high point of our day (if not the low point of Leonard Nimoy’s career). Cue the Vulcan harp…