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This article examines the history, development and theory of the client-centered approach to lawyering, which has become the most prevalent theory of lawyering taught in law school clinics. It examines the basic tenets of client-centered representation as a problem-solving approach and shows how critique and modification of the approach has spawned a diversity of lawyering models that share the basic tenets of client-centered representation but are in tension with its preferred methodology of lawyer neutrality. The article draws on theories of autonomy to help explain this tension, showing that notions of positive freedom support a range of autonomy-enhancing intervention into the decision making of others. It then proposes that client-centered representation be understood as encompassing a plurality of approaches consistent with these autonomy-enhancing interventions, and that understanding client-centered representation in this way can help to guide the exercise of a client-centered lawyer's contextualized professional judgment. It proposes a taxonomy of five approaches - holistic representation, narrative integrity, client empowerment, partisan advocacy and client-directed lawyering - and shows how these plural approaches can be used as analytical tools to aid lawyers in deciding when or how forcefully to intervene in client decision making.

Publication Citation

New York Law School Clinical Research Institute Research Paper Series No. 05/06 # 19.