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Could you overstep your client’s rights with your defense strategy?

An accusation of legal malpractice can be quite upsetting and could harm your career, so you want to do everything possible to avoid one.

The Hill explains that there are times when you may think you are doing a good thing for your client but in reality, what you do violates your client’s rights, which can easily lead to a legal malpractice claim.

The situation

Imagine that you have a client who refuses to admit guilt, but you know that if the client admits guilt, the potential sentences are much lighter. You may try to encourage the client to admit guilt, or you may design a defense that alludes to the client’s guilt because you feel it is what is best for him or her.

In doing this, you take away the client’s right to enter his or her own plea. You also violate the relationship with the client by going against his or her wishes. This is incredibly damaging and not legal.

The Sixth Amendment

In this situation, you are violating the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Your client has a right to choose his or her defense. He or she has the final say in any strategy you wish to utilize in court. You serve merely as a guide and advisor, but the client does not have to take your advice.

If your client does not agree to a strategy, you cannot use it in court. Doing so opens you up to legal malpractice claims. It will also potentially lead to a new trial for your client, which results in you wasting the court’s time and money.