May 1979

DR 6-101; EC 7-7, EC 7-8.


Must an attorney, in the bargaining process for settlement of a law suit, disclose to his client offers of settlement made by the opposing litigant?


Disciplinary Rule 6-101 requires that a lawyer represent a client competently, and competence is here presumed. However, in the offers and counter-offers that constitute realistic bargaining for settlement, the judgment of the defendant's attorney as to when and how much should be offered, and of the Plaintiff's attorney as to the adequacy of the offer, is itself a measure of competence. The client is entitled to this full measure of competence from his attorney in the bargaining process, and to the benefit of his attorney's analysis and recommendation concerning all offers of settlement. After the full disclosure and recommendation from the attorney, the burden of decision then shifts to the client.

EC 7-7 instructs that "it is for the client to decide whether he will accept a settlement offer," and EC 7-8 states that "the lawyer should always remember that the decision whether to forego legally obtainable objectives or methods because of non-legal factors is ultimately for the client and not himself."


It is the opinion of the Committee that DR 6-101 and EC 7-7 and EC 7-8 require that an attorney disclose to the client all offers of settlement.