Who is My Client? Client-Centered Lawyering with Multiple Clients

Document Type


Publication Date

November 2015


Many lawyers face the challenge of adhering to the idealistic principles of objective client-centered lawyering. This Article examines the additional conflict of client-centered lawyering when the attorney seeks to balance not only the attorney’s ethical obligations to the attorney’s individual corporate client, but also the attorney’s competing personal obligations to a cause and a group (such as members of a particular race). When an attorney’s sense of duty to a cause or the attorney’s race rises to the level where the advocacy for those groups becomes, in essence, that attorney’s cause client and race client, how does the attorney balance these obligations? The attorney, at that point, has an individual corporate client, a cause client, and a race client. This Article examines how a lawyer’s sense of duties to these non-legal clients impacts the attorney’s implementation of the utopic ideals of client-centered lawyering. How does an attorney remain objective in counseling the individual corporate client while torn by the duties to the cause client and race client? How does an attorney prevent the pursuit of these goals from influencing the choice of entities to accept as clients? Is it possible to provide client-centered objective advice to clients when an attorney has these competing personal duties that threaten to unduly influence the attorney’s actions?