When an attorney takes on a client, they assume several responsibilities in order to provide the client the best possible representation that the lawyer can provide based on their talents and experience. One of the most important of these obligations is the fiduciary duty.
A fiduciary duty is a legal duty based on the relationship between two people, such as an attorney and their client. If the attorney ever needs to control some of the client’s assets, such as money in an escrow account, the lawyer becomes a fiduciary and the client is the beneficiary. A fiduciary has the legal obligation to take care of those assets in the beneficiary’s best interests. For example, the attorney would probably need to deposit the funds in an escrow account with a reputable, fully insured bank rather than keeping the cash in an envelope within an unlocked drawer. Spending the money to pay off gambling debts would also be a breach of fiduciary duty.
Another possible breach of a lawyer’s fiduciary duty is using their influence over the client to convince them to do something that is not in their best interests, such as doing something that turns out to be illegal or very costly.
The devastating effects of a fiduciary breach
A breach of fiduciary duty can cost you a lot of money and possibly put you, your business or your family in serious financial peril. If such a loss resulted from your attorney’s negligence, you should consider all your options for recovery, including a legal malpractice lawsuit.