Client Communication Protocol Guidelines
The Rules of Professional Conduct require attorneys to keep their clients reasonably informed to enable them to make informed decisions about their case. RPC 1.2; 1.4(a); 1.4(b). At a minimum, communication protocols need to address client communications as appropriate at the following points of the representation:
At the initial time of the appointment, the attorney shall write to the client to outline the scope of the representation, to describe the stages of the appeal, to note the possible assessment of costs for appellate representation, and to provide an address and/or phone number by which the client can communicate with the attorney.
Evaluative Communication or Evaluative Letter
The attorney shall either:
- communicate with the client, by letter or telephone, regarding the fact that the attorney has read the record and analyzed the case and regarding the specific means by which the client may contact the attorney to fully discuss the merits and other factors involved in the clientâ€™s case and to exercise his or her options. Or, alternatively,
- summarize in a letter the results of the attorneyâ€™s investigation and analysis of the merits of the case, remind the client that costs may be assessed in case of an unsuccessful appeal, and provide an opportunity for the client to contact the attorney to exercise his or her options.
Some attorneys may choose to provide an evaluative communication or letter before writing the brief; others may choose to provide an evaluative communication or letter after writing the brief and/or accompanying the brief.
Letter Accompanying Brief
The attorney shall send the client the opening brief and inform the client of the right to obtain a copy of the transcript and to file a Statement of Additional Grounds for Review pursuant to RAP 10.10.
While the case is on-going, the attorney may update the client on developments. Examples include informing the client of the date of oral argument and forwarding a copy of the Stateâ€™s brief and any reply brief.
Letter Accompanying Decision
The attorney shall send the client a copy of the appellate courtâ€™s decision and shall inform the client whether the attorney plans to file a Petition for Review or whether the client has the option to file a petition and if so, the time constraints for such a petition.
Letter Accompanying Mandate
The attorney shall send the client a copy of the mandate and inform the client of the applicable time constraints for any further state or federal relief.