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Beyond Cardboard Clients in Legal Ethics

Katherine R. Kruse

Hamline University - School of Law

September 10, 2008

UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-02

This Article argues that the construction of cardboard clients in legal ethics has disserved legal ethics by obscuring what is arguably a more central problem of legal professionalism: the problem of legal objectification. The problem of legal objectification is the tendency of lawyers to "issue-spot" their clients as they would the facts on a blue-book exam, overemphasizing the clients' legal interests and minimizing or ignoring the other cares, commitments, relationships, reputations and values that constitute the objectives clients bring to legal representation. This Article proposes an alternative ideal of legal professionalism for "three-dimensional clients" based on helping clients articulate and actualize their values through the law. It argues that a client value-based model of representation survives the critiques of early legal ethicists and provides an antidote against both the self-seeking behavior that legal objectification promotes and the danger of moral overreaching associated with the lawyer-statesman model.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 60

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Date posted: September 12, 2008 ; Last revised: February 18, 2009

Suggested Citation

Kruse, Katherine R., Beyond Cardboard Clients in Legal Ethics (September 10, 2008). UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-02. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1266342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1266342

Contact Information

Kate Kruse (Contact Author)
Hamline University - School of Law ( email )
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States
651-523-2472 (Phone)
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