Helping a Friend (or Relative) in Prison

by | Oct 23, 2013

Criminal convictions — and the prison or jail time that comes with them — can create unique attorney-client situations.  The client has limited access to outside resources as he or she looks for an attorney to pursue an appeal.  How, for example, could a new-prisoner find a website like this one?  Mothers, fathers, children, and friends of the prisoner may step in to help.  The person reading this post may very well be looking for an appellate attorney, not for themselves, but for someone who no longer has the ability to find their own attorney.

In fact, that friend or relative may not only be tasked with finding an attorney; they may also be planning on paying for that attorney.  The defendant’s income, after all, was just radically reduced to less than a dollar a day – and that’s if they land one of the lucky jobs!  Why does this matter?

Ultimately, regardless of who is paying for the attorney, the attorney owes his profession duty to the defendant, not to the person paying the bills.  As a result, the attorney owes the defendant-client a duty of confidentiality, even from the person paying the bill, unless the client specifically waives it.  The defendant-client has certain powers to direct the representation and even terminate the representation, regardless of the wishes of the bill-payer.

In situations like this, this law office requires that both the defendant-client and the paying client sign the fee agreement.  Both are also strongly directed to read the agreement thoroughly so that no misunderstandings threaten to disrupt a continuous and effective representation.

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