Which Client-Centered Counselors?: A Reply to Professor Freedman

13 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2013 Last revised: 5 Mar 2014

See all articles by Robert F. Cochran

Robert F. Cochran

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Date Written: 2012


In this article, Professor Cochran responds to Professor Freedman's comments concerning Cochran’s criticism of client-centered lawyering for its tendency to focus exclusively on the interests of clients, often at the expense of other people. Professor Freedman and his co-author, Professor Abbe Smith, appear to be alone among the client-centered counselors in supporting the idea of moral counsel as an integral part of the decision-making process. In this response, Cochran attempts to generate a conversation among those who identify themselves as client-centered lawyers as to the very significant differences between them in the matter of lawyer-client moral discourse. Under the dominant method of client-centered counseling, the lawyer and client consider alternatives in light of consequences for the client, not consequences for others. After lawyers encourage the client to see things from the client's perspective and the client makes a decision, Cochran argues that it will be difficult for lawyers to shift gears and introduce moral discourse. Cochran also criticizes Freedman’s emphasis on client autonomy. Cochran argues that the concept of client autonomy is too absolute, and that each lawyer and client should have a discussion about the appropriate level of client autonomy. Professor Freedman may not be willing to break from the client-centered lawyers and join Professors Cochran, Shaffer, and others as a “collaborative counselor,” in a school of client counseling that better captures his call for lawyer-client moral discourse, but Cochran encourages Professor Freedman to challenge the dominant client-centered position on this issue and seek reform from within. Cochran concludes that lawyer-client moral discourse should be an integral part of legal representation.

Keywords: client-centered, moral discourse, collaborative counseling, legal ethics, attorney-client counseling, client autonomy

Suggested Citation

Cochran, Robert F., Which Client-Centered Counselors?: A Reply to Professor Freedman (2012). Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 40, p. 355, 2012, Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper 2014/3, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2366965

Robert F. Cochran (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law ( email )

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Malibu, CA 90263
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