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Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law: Your Lawyer's Discretion

Many people hire a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Lawyer to help them through the divorce process because it's not as straightforward as many people would like to believe.

However, what many clients forget is that they are in charge of their case.  If they request that their lawyer do or not do something in their case, then the lawyer must follow that request, perhaps explain the consequences of the client's choice if the lawyer does not agree, and then do as the client requests.

Some client's might make requests that save them money.  Others might make requests that prevent the divorce matter from becoming more adversarial than it already is.

As lawyers, client's hire us for our expertise, our discretion and our independent judgment.  Therefore, unless the client designates specifics in the case and makes sure that he or she understands what is being done on his or her behalf, the lawyer will make his or her best judgment regarding what must be done to reasonably protect the client's interests.  That may include discovery documents, motions, letters to opposing counsel and even depositions. 

Your divorce or family lawyer's discretion only extends as far as you allow it to, provided you allow your lawyer the opportunity to explain to you the consequences of your decision and even confirm in writing that you are asking him or her to proceed for you against the advice of counsel.

If you see your legal bill and believe it substantially deviates from the actual work your attorney has done, keep in mind that not everything you see is what the attorney has done.  You do not see the phone calls that are made by the attorney and on occasion you may not see the discovery documents sent to the opposing counsel (simply to save you money) but you should be aware that the attorney was going to draft them. 

Keep in touch with your case.  Know the steps and make sure your lawyer is clear on the work that is going to be performed for you.  Find out what your lawyer thinks are mandatory actions in your case and what are not.  Remember, your lawyer only truly has as much discretion as you give to him or her.  If you are silent regarding various aspects of your case, it is always assumed (and properly so) that an attorney must take the steps he or she sees are reasonably necessary to protect your interests.


Authored By:

  Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
70 Dogwood Drive, Suite 304
West Warwick, RI 02893

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Copyright 2008.  Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law

*The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law.
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