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Problem Solving in a Multidisciplinary Environment: Must Ethics get in the Way of Holistic Service
Clinical Law Review
  • J. Michael Norwood, University of New Mexico - Main Campus
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Authored with Alan Paterson. The article analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of delivering legal services as a part of a multidisciplinary practice (MDP). The analysis considers multidisciplinary practices from the perspectives of clients served, lawyers, the legal profession, and the general public, but emphasizes the quality of the relationships amongst the legal and nonlegal professionals involved in the MDP. While sounding a cautionary note about the need to preserve core ethical and professional values when implementing a MDP, the article seeks a balance among the common, and sometimes competing interests, of the public, the legal profession, and society whereby it describes an effective working model for multidisciplinary practice that accommodates the goal of enhanced services to clients while retaining the protections that clients and the public find within the existing principles of professional responsibility and the norms of best practice. The paper develops its core theme of seeking a path for both retaining the traditional notions of legal ethics and professional values, while also accommodating the advantages of MDPs, through three parts. The first part puts forth a working definition of a multidisciplinary practice and posits four models for managing multidisciplinary practices. Part two, introduces the interplay of the core values of the legal profession with the models for managing MDPs that are developed in part one. The legal profession's shared notions of loyalty to clients, confidentiality, privilege, professional independence of judgment, conflicts of interest, unauthorized practice, managing legal fees and trust accounts, truthfulness and fairness in marketing, and enforcement of professional discipline, are all at risk of profound alteration by the challenge of MDPs. The last part describes a working model for managing a MDP that provides the advantages of such practice without eroding the fundamental values of the profession.
Citation Information
J. Michael Norwood. "Problem Solving in a Multidisciplinary Environment: Must Ethics get in the Way of Holistic Service" Clinical Law Review Vol. 9 (2003) p. 337
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