Sections 3.1-2 and 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct confirm that the lawyer owes the client a duty to be competent to perform any legal services undertaken on the client's behalf. The lawyer should be conscientious, diligent and efficient in the provision of services to the client. The client is entitled to assume that the lawyer has the ability and capacity to deal adequately with any legal matters undertaken on the client's behalf.
The Code sets out a detailed, but not exhaustive, list of expected practices:
- keeping a client reasonably informed;
- answering reasonable requests from a client for information;
- responding to a client's telephone calls;
- keeping appointments with a client, or providing a timely explanation or apology when unable to keep such an appointment;
- taking appropriate steps to do something promised to a client, or informing or explaining to the client when it is not possible to do so; ensuring, where appropriate, that all instructions are in writing or confirmed in writing;
- answering, within a reasonable time, any communication that requires a reply;
- ensuring that work is done in a timely manner so that its value to the client is maintained;
- providing quality work and giving reasonable attention to the review of documentation to avoid delay and unnecessary costs to correct errors or omissions;
- maintaining office staff, facilities and equipment adequate to the lawyer's practice;
- informing a client of a proposal of settlement, and explaining the proposal properly;
- providing a client with complete and accurate relevant information about a matter;
- making a prompt and complete report when the work is finished or, if a final report cannot be made, providing an interim report when one might reasonably be expected;
- avoidance of self-induced disability, for example from the use of intoxicants or drugs, that interferes with or prejudices the lawyer's services to the client, and;
- being civil.
The lawyer’s duty to their client does not override their duty to comply with their professional obligations. A lawyer cannot accept instructions from their client that would result in them breaching the requirements of The Legal Profession Act, 1990, the Rules of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, and/or the Code of Professional Conduct.