Title: Incorporating Consideration of the Common Good in Client Counselling

Lead Presenter: Ann Juergens



Session Abstract: International movements are developing the idea that the overarching values of humankind--such as every person's responsibility to humanity as a whole--should be incorporated into the economic norms for any society. This idea gives justice educators a basis for insisting that higher values such as the common good be served even when clients are seeking economic gain or other "private" outcomes. One implication of honoring values other than the specific self interest of the client is that it should lead to changes in how we train law students to counsel clients. Clients may be poor and vulnerable, financially solid, or empowered and still a conversation about the impact of their matter on the common good cannot be taken for granted. How does a good lawyer incorporate discussions of the common good into their goal-setting conversations with clients? How can we avoid coercing clients with our own vision of the common good and listen to clients articulate their own thoughts on that idea? These are complex and often difficult conversations to have. In this clinician-lawyers' experience, those discussions are also not common practice. This session will briefly outline international movements for corporate social responsibility and economics for the common good. It will then examine how those principles apply to law practice, including especially law practice for social justice, and the challenges involved for lawyers adopting such principles in their relationships with clients. We will wrap up by devising a lesson plan for practicing discussions of the common good in relevant hypothetical settings with clients. The goal will be to create a counseling takeaway for use in our classroom or supervisions sessions with law students.

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