Through his lawyer, a client asked for, and received a professional courtesy from the opposing side.

The opposing counsel had attached a condition to this professional courtesy that the client didn't know about (only the two lawyers discussed this matter). The client now finds the condition more of a "give up" than the original favor.

Is a lawyer allowed to make such a deal without consulting the client? And since it is a matter of professional courtesy as opposed to a legal right, does such a deal even have any meaning?

  • 7
    You might want to be more specific on what you mean by professional courtesy, the condition required by the opposing counsel, and how (or the context in which) the client learned about his lawyer's deal. Without this information, it is very hard to give a reasonably concrete answer. Sep 20, 2019 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


This depends very much on the nature of the agreement, and whether it affects the client's rights and obligations. It may also depend on which US state this is in.

If the agreement is "We will hold the negotiating meetings at your office instead of mine." the client's rights are not affected and the client probably has no veto. If the agreement is "Yes we will plead guilty to manslaughter." it isn't valid without the client's consent.

If the client is giving up any rights or making any significant concessions, then the client's consent is probably required, but I can give no better answer without an indication of the subject of the agreement.

  • 1
    This is a very useful answer within the parameters I gave you. You gave two examples at the polar extremes and implied that there was a middle ground, and that's what I needed to know.
    – Libra
    Sep 20, 2019 at 20:51
  • 3
    The usual dividing line is whether it pertains to a procedural matters in which case lawyers usually can agree (unless the procedural matter is exclusively a client decision as some are in criminal law, but very few are otherwise), or whether it resolved the merits (a client must consent to that, unless authority has been provided to do so in advance).
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 20, 2019 at 23:17
  • What about something like "We'll buy drinks after the trial, and whoever loses pays for them"?
    – nick012000
    Sep 21, 2019 at 8:02
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    @nick012000 : If it doesn't give any advantage or disadvantage to the clients, then why should it be a problem?
    – vsz
    Sep 21, 2019 at 9:26
  • 2
    @nick012000 That'd be "whoever wins pays for them". So long as there's still the incentive to win for your client, isn't that okay?
    – wizzwizz4
    Sep 21, 2019 at 11:24

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