Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Attorney-Client Relationship: A Jewish Law Perspective

Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2000

24 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2008  

Steven H. Resnicoff

DePaul University College of Law


Professors Thomas L. Shaffer and Robert F. Cochran, Jr., state that an attorney, vis-ý-vis her client, acts as either (1) a godfather; (2) a hired gun; (3) a guru; or (4) a friend. These paradigms principally differ as to the extent to which the attorney, rather than the client, controls the relationship and the degree to which the interests of persons other than the client are deemed important. Shaffer and Cochran contend that the friend model is to be preferred. As the client's friend, the attorney not only considers which possible decision would be ethically correct but she engages her client in moral discourse so that the client may make the ethically correct decision. However, the attorney does not attempt to manipulate the client into making this decision.

This article explains that Jewish law assumes the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent Creator and the existence of a network of relationships between and among the Creator and all human beings. The purpose of the article is to examine how, in light of these assumptions and other applicable Jewish law doctrines, none of the Shaffer-Cochran models captures Jewish law's view of the attorney-client relationship. Moreover, the article argues that the Jewish law model is ethically superior to the friend paradigm favored by Shaffer and Cochran.

Keywords: Attorney, lawyer, attorney-client relationship, autonomy, godfather, guru, hired gun, friend, moral agent, Jewish, Judaism, Jewish law, cognitive dissonance, confidentiality, ethics, professional ethics, Jewish values, halakha, Talmud, religion, lifnei iver, collective responsibility, inquisitorial

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Resnicoff, Steven H., The Attorney-Client Relationship: A Jewish Law Perspective. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2000. Available at SSRN:

Steven H. Resnicoff (Contact Author)

DePaul University College of Law ( email )

25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312-362-8137 (Phone)
312-362-5448 (Fax)

Paper statistics

Abstract Views