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Partisanship, Betrayal and Autonomy in the Lawyer-Client Relationship

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Classification:Client - Client Concerns
Date Published:01/01/1990
Title:Partisanship, Betrayal and Autonomy in the Lawyer-Client Relationship
Source:Columbia Law Review/ David Luban

Luban Replies to Stephen Ellmann on Ellmann's review of Luban's book, Lawyers and Justice. Ellmann proposes so many objections to Luban's book that Luban choses to focus on Ellmann's objections to moral activism and to Luban's critique of the standard conception of the lawyer's role.
The Principle of Nonaccountability
Ellmann offers two arguements: That lawyers who pursue client's ends of which they disapprove may be doing so for reasons having nothing to do with non-accountablity and second, that lawyers agree with their client's ends often enough that the non-accountabilty principle plays only a small role in their professional lives.
The Principle of Partisanship
Luban's cites Ellmann's point to the prevalence of lawyers who "fail to rise to the level of partisanship" to cast doubts on lawyer's acceptance of the principle.
That "partisanship" being in need of moral justificaton.
The Two Traditions
Luban agrees with Ellmann's comment "Some lawyers have deliberately and conscientiously embraced principles that restrain partisanship "directly" or "indirectly" and elaborates on it.
Also, Luban covers Hypervigilant moralism, the "softness" of common morality, preaching to the client, betraying clients, cross-examination, and representation of a guilty client.
Luban's reply closes with the direct but controversial statement: "I see no intrinsic value to autonomy." Free choice, he argues, has value only to the extent that it promotes responsiblity, creativity, or authenticity.
20 pages, File 1


[Revised: 07-31-2006]