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Unpublished Paper
Clients: Essential to a Legal Practice, Needed in Doctrinal Legal Education
ExpressO (2011)
  • Cheryl B. Wattley, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
ABSTRACT Drawing from my almost thirty years of law practice experience, it is my belief that clients are looking for an attorney who will communicate effectively with them, focus on their situation and give them an assurance that the attorney will use his or her expertise to the client’s benefit to achieve the best possible result. Client concerns reflect a humanity of relationship, an affective dimension, that is stifled in traditional doctrinal instruction. The article begins with a brief section about legal education, noting the spotlight that the publications of the Carnegie Report and Best Practices have brought to the subject. The section also explores the collateral consequence of the case dialogue instructional method of minimizing a client presence and virtually eliminating any client humanity from doctrinal courses. A discussion of a survey of young lawyers follows. That study confirmed the perception that doctrinal courses do not provide any instruction relative to client concerns and that such instruction is relegated to simulation courses or live client clinics. The benefits that could result from integrating a client presence into doctrinal courses is explored in the context of one of the most common disciplinary and grievance complaints - lack of communication. It is my thesis that creating client contextualization exercises in doctrinal courses will help law students to be consistently prompted as to the human component of law and to counter the sterile, antiseptic presentations of edited appellate decisions. I conclude with examples of client contextualization exercises that can be incorporated into doctrinal courses. Describing exercises that I use in my first year Criminal Law and my upper level Criminal Procedure II courses, I present the student benefit and challenge of such exercises.
Publication Date
May 21, 2011
Citation Information
Cheryl B. Wattley. "Clients: Essential to a Legal Practice, Needed in Doctrinal Legal Education" ExpressO (2011)
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