Does an attorney have the legal right to make decisions without the clients knowledge and approval? 48 Answers as of July 04, 2013

Does an attorney have the legal right to make decisions/settlements without the clients knowledge and approval? And as a senior citizen what rights do I have and actions I can take? Also, If the client has declined the same offer several times, does the attorney have the legal right to go ahead and take the settlement offer anyway without notifying the client?

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The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
As the client you have the right to make the decision as to whether you accept or decline an offer. You can also fire your attorney and hire a new one. Attorneys have certain ethical obligations which can be found on the Oregon State Bar website (see: http://www.osbar.org/rulesregs ). If you feel your attorney has violated one of these ethical rules you may wish to file a complaint with the Oregon State Bar.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 7/15/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
No. You should take all of your documents re the case and call the state bar.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/14/2011
The Law Firm of Shawn M. Murray
The Law Firm of Shawn M. Murray | Shawn M. Murray
Strategic decisions, yes. Settlement decisions, no.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 7/14/2011
The Reed Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
The Reed Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Vanessa Reed
An attorney never has the right or ability to make decisions, or settle cases, without a client's knowledge and approval.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 7/14/2011
Wilson & Hajek, LLC
Wilson & Hajek, LLC | Eddie W. Wilson
An attorney should always have authority from the client to settle a claim.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 7/14/2011
    ROWE LAW FIRM
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    An attorney may not settle a clients case without their permission, and if a settlement is reached without the client's permission, it may be overturned. You will need to consult with a lawyer regarding the specific circumstances of your particular case. If you have declined an offer several times, the attorney does not, without your specific permission, have the right to settle anyway without your notice and permission.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Painter Law Firm PLLC
    Painter Law Firm PLLC | Robert Painter
    An attorney has an ethical obligation to communicate settlement offers to his or her client, and may not ethically accept a settlement offer without the client's approval. As a client, if you feel this has been violated by your attorney, you should raise it with your attorney and attempt to work it out. Beyond that, you may discharge your attorney and retain a new one, or file a grievance with the State Bar of Texas.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
    In a personal injury case, most attorneys obtain the approval of the client before agreeing to a settlement. However, sometimes the contract between the lawyer and the client provides that the lawyer can settle the case using his or her best judgment. If you believe the attorney did not follow your wishes, you should discuss the matter with your attorney. If you are still not satisfied, then you may want to consult another lawyer. Of course, a settlement usually involves paperwork such as a release that requires your signature. If you are not satisfied and did not agree to the deal, then you do not have to sign the release (assuming the contract does not provide otherwise).
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Law Offices of Earl K. Straight
    Law Offices of Earl K. Straight | Earl K. Straight
    An attorney should not settle a case without the clients approval. However, you have given your attorney the right to negotiate a settlement on your behalf, and he may do so and reach what he feels is a fair settlement, or he may receive a take it or leave it final offer, which he should then present to you for your approval. But the settlement is not final until you approve it by signing the release, and you are not obligated to sign unless you fully approve of the settlement terms.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    The lawyer needs the client's consent to enter into a settlement. If there is no consent the agreement is not valid and you may want to consider filing a grievance against the attorney with the State Bar
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    Generally, an attorney must abide by his client's wishes regarding settlement. I am not aware of any normal situation where a settlement could just be accepted without the client giving consent. Senior citizens have the same rights as all other citizens, there is not a separate set of rules for people due to age.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC
    Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC | Sam L. Levine
    No.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    No. You are the final decision maker. If you are unhappy with your attorney, talk to them and change attorneys if needed. The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Alabama. Responses are based solely on Alabama law unless stated otherwise.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A.
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A. | Lawrence A. Ramunno
    No, the attorney cannot accept an offer without the client's approval. You should not sign release and tell attorney to inform defendant that there is no settlement.. You may want to change attorneys.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    Your attorney has authority to settle your case, which means if he/she agreed to an offer, you are bound by that agreement. You likely cannot get out of it on the ground that you did not authorize the attorney to accept it. Your attorney should not have accepted it unless you authorized the attorney to accept offers without consulting you. Unfortunately, your only re3courze may be to file a grievance against the attorney, which will not profit you. You could sue the attorney, but you can win only if you can prove that you would have recovered more had you not accepted the offer.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Most likely the attorney does not have the right to settle without the client's authority. However, I have seen some contracts over the years where the client authorizes the attorney to accept a settlement offer, so read the contract. Regardless, the attorney must act in the client's best interest. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC | Russell D. Gray
    Absolutely not. The attorney does not have the legal right to make decisions about settlement without the client's consent. Your recourse is to file a bar complaint and possibly a malpractice suit.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    No. The attorney works for the client who has to give the attorney authorization to accept an offer. Call the attorney or call the Florida bar.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    No the attorney cannot make such decisions unless you have authorized him to do so. You may have an Elder Abuse claim for financial abuse. This is somewhat of a complex area of law and you should speak to attorney that handles such claims.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    No . He should require the client's approval.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    Generally the client has the only say in accepting a settlement of a case. There are instances where the client grants the lawyer permission to settle the case at a certain amount. You can complain to the state bar and also seek other legal counsel to address the situation with the lawyer who settled without your consent.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Your lawyer cannot accept a settlement without your approval. A lawyer can make some strategic decisions without your advance knowledge or approval. Some decisions he can make and some he can't. It depends. But he may not act except in your overall beat interests.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Absolutely NOT. The lawyer may NOT take an offer against your wishes and you should NOT sign any release that the lawyer asks you to sign. If you need to speak with an attorney about this please feel free to call. If a lawyer is taking advantage of an elderly person, he/she should not get away with it.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    No, generally an attorney may not accept a settlement offer on behalf of a client without the client's consent.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    An attorney must make a decision about accepting a settlement offer only with the client's consent, unless the client gave authorization to accept "the best offer" or "within a range", etc.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    An attorney can only settle a case when so instructed by his client.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    An attorney does not have the right to accept and bind his/her client without their approval.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    The answer is simple: NO. The client is ALWAYS the attorney's boss and we cannot make decisions regarding the settlement of a case without the client's permission.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Allen Murphy Law
    Allen Murphy Law | W. Riley Allen
    Absolutely NOT! The decision belongs to you. Call The Florida Bar and file a complaint if necessary. And, get another lawyer or better yet see if he'll withdraw as that minimizes the chance he would be able to claim a lien on your ultimate recovery. Unless you are being totally unreasonable, it appears you have a lawyer who wants to take the easy way out.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    An attorney cannot settle a case without the express consent of the client.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Richard E. Lewis, P.S.
    Richard E. Lewis, P.S. | Richard Eugene Lewis
    There are certain decisions in the normal course of litigation that an attorney can make as your representative. However, he must communicate all settlement offers and it is your decision whether to accept the offer. He may express an opinion, but should not accept without your concurrence.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Law Office of Garrett S. Handy
    Law Office of Garrett S. Handy | Garrett S. Handy
    The decision to settle is entirely up to the client. The attorney's role is to give advice, but not to make the final decision about settlement. If the client has declined the offer to settle, then the attorney does not have authority to settle the case. You should contact another attorney to discuss your legal options, such as a possible legal malpractice case.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Law Offices of Tom Patton
    Law Offices of Tom Patton | Thomas C. Patton
    It depends upon the agreement between attorney and client. The fee agreement will normally contain provisions allowing the attorney to make decisions about how to proceed. Attorneys are always required to keep their clients reasonably informed about the progress of a case. Most fee agreements do not allow an attorney to agree to a settlement amount without the client's approval.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Holzer Edwards
    Holzer Edwards | Kurt Holzer
    No, the client has control of the representation. If a lawyer acts in a manner opposed to the clients direction, the best thing to do is to file a complaint with the Idaho State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC | Robert Morrison Lucky
    In Louisiana, attorneys are supposed to obtain the approval of the client prior to accepting or rejecting any offers. If the attorney fails to do so, then there are some potential ethics violations. Additionally, depending on the type of settlement, it is ultimately the client who must sign any releases and settlement paperwork.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    Attorney has no right to accept a settlement without client approval, especially if client has previously rejected settlement. You have the right to fire the attorney, complain to the state bar, and hire a new attorney to deal with the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    This is one of those rare questions that has a very definitive answer - no, an attorney cannot accept a settlement on behalf of a client without the client's consent. Usually these situations boil down to a misunderstanding between the lawyer and the client (the lawyer thinks he has consent), but this sounds like a different situation where you expressly told the lawyer you did not want to accept the settlement offer. Your options depend on how far along this has gone. It may be possible just to let the other side know that your lawyer acted without your permission, and if they decide they don't want to try to fight the issue you may "reset" to the posture before your attorney tried to accept the offer. Either way, I would fire your current lawyer and find another one. Document in writing that he went against your express wishes and acted without your authority in trying to settle. If the other side refuses to back down because they thought they had a settlement, they may file a motion to enforce settlement which basically asks a judge to force you to take whatever your lawyer agreed to. You will want to be represented by a different lawyer in any hearing, and let the judge know that you did not consent and that your lawyer had no authority to settle for you. I don't think the judge would enforce a settlement if you can establish that you told your lawyer to reject it. In any event, you obviously don't want to sign anything agreeing to the settlement (especially any Release of claims). You may also want to consider filing a grievance against the lawyer with the Florida bar if the lawyer went against your express instructions and settled without your permission. That is a big no no. I suggest you immediately go out and find new counsel to help you with this. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/20/2012
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    generally an attorney has the authorization only to the extent you have given it. The information contained in this email may be confidential and/or legally privileged. It has been sent for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). If the reader of this message is not an intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication, or any of its contents, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Whether to settle is purely up to the client.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Of course not. You will have to agree to any settlement, presumably sign a release, and dismiss your case. This cannot happen without your approval. Time to speak to your attorney in depth or get a second opinion.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr.
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr. | John J. Ferry, Jr.
    No, an attorney should not accept any settlement without his or her client's consent. An attorney can, and should, give you their opinion on whether or not to accept an offer, but it's ultimately up to the client.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    The Kelly Law Firm, P.C.
    The Kelly Law Firm, P.C. | L. Todd Kelly
    Normally, not. I would make sure that you did not grant that authority in your contract, but if not, then I cannot imagine how the attorney could have that ability. Settlement agreements are up to the client, and settling without client authority is unethical and likely malpractice.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/13/2011
    West law Office
    West law Office | Russell West
    Any settlement offer made must be accepted by the client. An attorney cannot accept an offer without conveying the offer to the client and getting the clients approval to accept.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/13/2011
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