Skip to main content

The Essence of the Client-Lawyer Relationship

The Essence of the Client-Lawyer Relationship (Program)

Yasutomo Morigiwa, Meiji University (Japan) (Moderator); Alice Woolley, University of Calgary School of Law (Canada); Brad Wendel, Cornell Law School (US); David Luban, Georgetown University Law Center (US); and Kyoko Ishida, Waseda University (Japan)

The Essence of the Client-Lawyer Relationship 

There are several models of the client-lawyer relationship: lawyer as fiduciary, with attendant problems of paternalism; lawyer as gatekeeper, in regulatory contexts; lawyer as friend, a la Charles Fried's article; lawyer as client's political colleague in certain public-interest contexts.

The panel will discuss the (apparent or real) conflict between the first two issues:

1) lawyer with fiduciary duty towards client

2) lawyer as gatekeeper (and officer of the court)

Can the public duty of the lawyer to uphold the law be explained in terms of fiduciary duty, as being in the client's interest at the end of the day, even when the client doesn't see it that way? If not, what would be the appropriate account?

In the U.S., there are broad areas of agreement on the nature of fiduciary relationships, the lawyer’s role, and whether the lawyer’s role can properly be characterized as fiduciary. However, even characterizing the professional role as fiduciary is questioned in many parts of the world, i.e., in civil law countries, where thinking in terms of contractual rather than fiduciary duty is considered a moral and theoretical must.

View other papers and programs within this theme.