Ethical Statement

Our Relationship

Everything my office learns about you as a client during the representation is confidential. We are do not discuss your legal matters with anyone outside the office.

What you tell me is similar to what one would tell their priest or doctor. I can’t be effective in helping you unless I know all of the facts, including all of the unpleasant and embarrassing facts.

However, if there are items that you would like to be disclosed about your case, i.e., court dates and times if it is part of a public record, I will have you sign a disclosure form giving my office permission to do that only.  

Contact with an Opposing Party Represented by Counsel

A lawyer cannot ethically contact the opposing party if that person is represented by an attorney. There is no ethical restriction on the parties  talking to one another, but make sure I am aware of the contents of your dicussions and allow me to give you guidance prior to your discussions.  Sometimes, it is simply not in your best interest to communicate with the "other" side, and I trust that if I advise you not to communicate, you will heed my advice.

Trust Accounts

Lawyers are required to have trust accounts or IOLTA accounts for client funds.  As such, I cannot mix unearned client funds with my personal or business funds.  Additionally, I may not borrow funds from the client. All deposits and withdrawals of your funds in this special account must be reported to you in a timely manner.

 Fee problems 

Fee problems can become ethics problems in cases, expecially when a fee charged is too great in light of the facts or the time involved or when an attorney does not refund unearned monies.   The Alabama Bar Association should be called if you have a genuine fee dispute.  For more information, visit the Alabama Bar Association's website at http://www.alabar.org/. I am always willing to discuss any invoice which you have received from the office.  Please understand that if you present me with a check to be deposited into my IOLTA account, I cannot release any of those funds until I receive notice that the check has cleared.

Conflicts of interest

A lawyer cannot ethically represent both sides in a dispute. A lawyer must ethically do the best possible for his or her client. A lawyer may not represent a client if representation of that client and total loyalty to that client could be impaired by the lawyer's relationship with another person or client.  For example, if I represent a husband in a divorce, I cannot turn around and represent his ex-wife in a custody modification. 

However, there are situations which may allow a lawyer to meet with both sides of an action.  For example, in an uncontested divorce action, the lawyer may represent one party and present the documents to the other party for signatures.  The other party may indeed come into the office and sign those documents; however, that party must acknowledge and sign a statement that states that they are NOT represented by the lawyer who prepared the documents.  It is not proper for me to present those documents to someone who, at the time of presentment, is represented by counsel in that matter.

Failure to Communicate with a Client

Generally speaking,it is not unethical of a lawyer to not return telephone calls promptily.   Of course, a lawyer must keep the client informed, but not necessarily within minutes of an event.  I hear from people all the time, who complain that their previous lawyer did not keep them informed or did not return their phone calls. Honestly, it's not always possible  return every call immediately or even within 24 hours.  That may upset or frustrate a client, and is most likely bad business, but in most cases, it is not unethical.

My practice requires me to be in Court almost everyday.  Sometimes court appearances take longer than expected, and as such, returning phone calls the same day is hindered by my unavailability during normal business hours.  So don't be surprised if I should call you in the evening or on weekends.

Pretending to have “Special Influence”

It is usually unethical for a lawyer to state or to even hint that he or she has special influence over a judge or other official. The lawyer is implying that the results will be determined by who the lawyer is rather than the merits of the case.

Be careful of a lawyer who expresses the ability to “fix” a case, this lawyer might not be able to help you if legal skills are required to win your case.

It would be proper for the lawyer to state that he or she has appeared before the judge and is familiar with the kind of evidence that the judge looks for, or some of the judge’s idiosyncrasies or procedures in the courtroom.  For example, in Madison County, some judges are more formal than others.  Some judges like documents prepared a certain way, while other judges prefer another.  That is simply a sign that your lawyer has practiced in a particular courtroom and has experience in manuevering that courtroom.

Obviously, this is not comprehensive list of all possible sticky ethical situations which may arise during representation, but are some of the more common ones.  There are books on ethics, classes in law school on ethics and even a required ethics exam which every lAlabama lawyer must pass prior to admission to the bar.

I will never practice law unethically. I believe that you will best be served by ethical representation.  I will be aggressive when it advances your case. I will give common courtesies to opposing counsel, if that will not harm your case. I will never knowingly be unethical and trust that you understand that this is in your best interest. 

 

 








Gabrielle N. Helix
Attorney At Law

2117 Whitesburg Drive
Huntsville, AL 35801

T: 256.489.0595
F: 256.489.0596

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers