One of the first tasks I was assigned as a newly minted 25 year old defense lawyer was to assist in the preparation of a comprehensive status report for a medical malpractice insurer. This 15 page update had everything you would ever want to know, and more, from an assessment of the opposing party’s demeanor, to a detailed description of how opposing counsel threw a paper-airplane at the other attorney during deposition (yes this really happened!), to what the Judge typically ate for lunch in Court, and of course an analysis about potential outcomes if the matter ended up in trial.
While considerably more in depth in medical malpractice matters, the concept 12 years later remains important- to keep clients reasonably informed regarding significant matters concerning their case. Not only is it good practice, its required. The California State Bar Act enumerates various duties of an attorney (see Bus. & Prof.C. § 6068). One of those duties is for the attorney [“T]o respond promptly to reasonable status inquiries of clients and to keep clients reasonably informed of significant developments in matters with regard to which the attorney has agreed to provide legal services.” [Bus. & Prof.C. § 6068(c), (d), (e)(1), (f) & (m)].
A status update provides the attorney an easy opportunity to maintain the trust of their client, so when it comes time for conversations regarding settlement, trial, and possible outcomes, there are no surprises.
One way to keep clients updated is with a reporting form that is clear and easy to follow. A sample can be found here.