A Persistent Critique: Constructing Clients' Stories

Clinical Law Review, Spring 2006

NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 04/05-5

52 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2005

See all articles by Carolyn Grose

Carolyn Grose

Mitchell Hamline School of Law


In this article I explore the representation of transgender clients to see what lawyering theory we can export to representation of other clients. In the first section, I describe the "problem of representation," - the challenge of seeing and hearing clients' stories, particularly when those stories do not fit in to our understanding of how the world works. In the second part of the article, I describe first the "official stories" that govern how the legal system treats transgender people and second how the official legal stories are themselves porous, based as they are on assumptions that don't adequately address the particular issues confronting the particular client who has come into contact with the legal system. In the third part, I describe how, with critical reflection, lawyers and students are able to see and hear, and thus represent, their transgender clients.

Throughout the piece, I situate myself as a learner, along with my students. This location is implicit in the idea of reflective lawyering, which is ultimately what the piece is about: the role (and necessity) of critical reflection in representation. By critical reflection, I mean the process by which we locate ourselves within the system in which we are operating and in relation to the other players in that system. Through this process, we are able to identify what assumptions are at work and the effect they are having on us, on the other players, and on the system itself. Having identified those assumptions and how they are operating, we find ourselves with more room to make intentional choices about how to proceed with the representation of our clients, and we end up being more effective advocates for them. As such, critical reflection is a skill that makes us better lawyers.

Keywords: transgender, representation, reflection, critical, stories, lawyering

Suggested Citation

Grose, Carolyn, A Persistent Critique: Constructing Clients' Stories. Clinical Law Review, Spring 2006, NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 04/05-5, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=839424

Carolyn Grose (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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