Before Hire Lawyer


Introduction

  • A lawyer is a qualified professional who can guide you through the legal process so that you can make informed legal decisions.
  • A lawyer may also represent you in legal documents, proceedings, and other matters related to the law.
  • A lawyer may not act as a broker. Lawyers who engage in bribery or other attempts to unlawfully influence the legal process may lose their license to practice and face criminal charges due to misconduct.
  • In Myanmar, there are two main categories of lawyer: Higher Grade Pleader and Advocate. For more information see Question 3: What is the difference between Higher Grade Pleader and Advocate?
  • This app provides only general legal information. An individual’s rights and responsibilities may vary depending on the type of case and the specific factual circumstances.
  • This app cannot replace a lawyer because does not, and cannot, advise the user on the best options to take nor inform the user of likely outcomes.
  • A lawyer is expected to apply the law to the specific facts of a client’s case and advice on the best actions to take and likely outcomes. Only a qualified lawyer should provide you with such legal advice.
  • You may also need a lawyer to directly represent you in court proceedings.
  • In Myanmar, there are two main categories of lawyer:
  • A Higher Grade Pleader is a lawyer who may only practice at the Township and District Court levels and is subject to the Legal Practitioner’s Act (1879).
  • An Advocate is a lawyer who may practice at all levels including the Supreme Court, and is subject to the Bar Council Act (1926) (amended 1989). Some provisions of the Legal Practitioner’s Act (1879) also apply to Advocates.
  • A lawyer can help you understand your rights and the law relevant to your situation.
  • A lawyer will advise you on available legal options and their possible consequences.
  • You should hire a lawyer even if you believe you are guilty of the charges against you and wish to plead guilty. A lawyer can help guide you through the process of pleading guilty or facing trial and ensure that your rights are respected.
  • Paralegals are persons who have received training in skills such as advocacy and mediation but are not lawyers.
  • Paralegals may provide information on the legal process and available remedies. They may also engage with wide-range of administrative institutions and customary authorities on your behalf.
  • Paralegals may also provide support to qualified lawyers but cannot replace lawyers in all instances. For example, only qualified lawyers should provide you with legal advice and represent you in court proceedings.
  • Every accused person has the right to be defended by a lawyer in criminal proceedings.
  • This includes the right to privately communicate with a lawyer while in detention, including within 24 hours of arrest.
  • If the offence is punishable with death, the State should provide a lawyer for the accused free of charge.

Finding a lawyer

  • Please click the lawyer directory.
  • You should retain a lawyer as soon as possible.
  • You have the right to be defended by a lawyer in a criminal case from the moment of arrest.
  • Early legal representation may provide additional benefits, particularly in criminal cases, this includes the dismissing of charges against you, release on bail, and even protection against police misconduct.
  • When more than one person is accused in the same case, it is best that a lawyer represents only one of the co-accused.
  • Even if at first it seems like there is no conflict of interest, one may arise later. For example, it may be in the best interest of one co-accused to confess while the other co-accused should pursue trial.

Duties and responsibilities of a lawyer

  • Your lawyer should do everything possible to represent your interests as a client while abiding by ethical and legal obligations.
  • A lawyer must also not lie or otherwise mislead the court, or allow others to do so.
  • A lawyer must not engage in bribery or other corrupt activities. For more information regarding lawyer misconduct see also Question 18: Can I file complaint against my lawyer?
  • A lawyer has a duty to study the facts and research the law of each case.
  • A lawyer is responsible for applying the law to the specific facts of a client’s case and advising the client on the best actions to take and likely outcomes.
  • When working with children, the lawyer should take the time to explain the legal circumstances using concepts and vocabulary that the child understands as much as possible.
  • In court proceedings, a lawyer is expected to present or examine evidence, to call witnesses on behalf of the client, cross-examine witnesses testifying on behalf of the opposing party, and submit objections where appropriate.
  • A lawyer must also be present at each hearing, secure necessary court documents and provide the client with copies.
  • A lawyer has a duty to investigate; this includes inspecting evidence, relevant locations, and interviewing witnesses.
  • A lawyer must reply promptly to communications and keep you updated on your case.
  • A lawyer must also keep information and communications confidential. See Question 11: What is a lawyer’s duty to maintain confidentiality?
  • A lawyer must maintain a client’s confidentiality by securely storing client documents and not disclosing any private communications related to a case between the lawyer and the client.
  • A lawyer cannot be compelled to reveal confidential communications with a client made within the scope of the lawyer’s representation of that client.
  • There are very limited exceptions to this rule:
  • Anything you say that furthers an illegal act is not protected.
  • If you commit a crime after you have secured a lawyer, that lawyer has an obligation to report facts related to the newly committed offence to the authorities.
  • You may also provide written consent to waive confidentiality.
  • You should be careful when speaking about your case in circumstances where you may be overheard by people other than your lawyer.
  • Confidentiality of communication extends to prison visits between a lawyer and a client.
  • Where relevant communications also made in the presence of an interpreter, or other staff employed by your lawyer to work on your case, may also be considered confidential information and protected by law.
  • Where possible, you should confirm with your lawyer before initiating any communications you wish to keep confidential in the presence of others.
  • A conflict of interest is presumed to exist where a lawyer represents parties on both sides of a dispute and is therefore prohibited.
  • A lawyer can only take instruction from the client retained.
  • Although it is not prohibited under Myanmar law, it is best that a lawyer represent only one person if there are multiple accused persons.
  • Even if at first it seems like there is no conflict of interest, one may arise later. For example, it may be in the best interest of one co-accused to confess while the other co-accused should pursue trial.

Meeting with your lawyer

  • Once you and a lawyer agree that the lawyer will assume responsibility for your case, you should expect the lawyer to provide you with a power of attorney to sign. This is a written contract between you (the client) and the lawyer. The lawyer shall promptly file this agreement with the relevant court.
  • You should also expect the following from your lawyer:
  • To respond promptly to communications and keep you updated on any developments regarding your case.
  • Prepare you for each upcoming hearing and to explain what happened after each hearing.
  • Receive documents related to your case, including case file.
  • Securely keep all documents and correspondence related to your case in a safe place, including court orders and power of attorney.
  • If you are in police custody, expect your lawyer to advocate for your immediate release where possible.
  • Remember that a lawyer’s responsibility is to help you, the client, make an informed choice. A lawyer should be client-centered and take instruction from you.
  • However, a lawyer may need to explain to the client why certain instructions cannot be followed (for example, there is no legal basis for such instruction, it is against the law).
  • You, or someone on your behalf, should gather any relevant documentation to provide the lawyer.
  • You should prepare questions and concerns that you wish to address in the meeting.
  • You should also prepare to explain the circumstances of your situation in a clear, honest, and logical manner.
  • You should ask your lawyer about your rights and responsibilities as well as your legal options.
  • You should ask your lawyer to explain the merits and risks of each legal option that you may practically take so that you can make an informed decision.
  • You should also ask your lawyer if they have a conflict of interest in your case. This includes asking your lawyer if they have represented or are representing a person related to your case, such as potential witnesses.
  • When you agree to allow a lawyer represent you, you must sign a “power of attorney.” This is a written contract between you (the client) and the lawyer.
  • A lawyer must submit a power of attorney with the court in order to represent you in court proceedings.
  • The power of attorney filed with the court will apply until the proceedings for a case has concluded, or upon the death of the lawyer or client.
  • The court may also grant a request to withdraw a power of attorney when submitted in writing and signed by the client or lawyer.

Problems with your lawyer

  • Lawyers have a responsibility to respond to communication in a timely fashion.
  • Lawyers must keep a client promptly updated on the circumstances of a client’s case.
  • If you have not heard from your lawyer in a while or have an upcoming deadline or court hearing, you must contact your lawyer immediately and keep a note of the details. You may consider filing a complaint.
  • If your lawyer’s competence or other conduct concerns you, you may fire your lawyer.
  • If you disagree with your lawyer, you should ask your lawyer to explain the situation again. As the client, you shall make the final decision.
  • However, a lawyer is not obliged to act in an unethical or illegal manner.
  • You may file a complaint in cases of misconduct. Misconduct may include acting in a manner that is “grossly improper,” submitting a false complaint, or otherwise being unfit.
  • If your lawyer is an Advocate, complaints should be filed with the Supreme Court to initiate disciplinary proceedings. For Higher Grade Pleaders, a case may be initiated in lower courts.
  • In both cases the Supreme Court is empowered to make the final ruling which may lead to permanently revoking a lawyer’s licence.