Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2002

Abstract

Increasingly in recent years, critics and commentators have noted the importance of the role of culture within the lawyering process. Lawyers now understand better than they used to that culture matters in their day to day work with clients, and that not all cultures share the same habits, customs, values, traditions and preferences. This article explores how the reality of cultural diversity might affect some fundamental lawyering practices and models, and specifically the models for interviewing and counseling. In their work, lawyers must take cultural background into consideration expressly, but at the same time they must avoid harmful and unfair generalizations and stereotypes. This article proposes the concept of "heuristics" to capture the idea that lawyers might assume tentatively, but only tentatively, that a member of a recognized non-dominant cultural group will share the values, habits, and preferences of his or her group. It then employs the concept of "biases" to remind lawyers of the need to be aware of their own cultural preconceptions when working with different clients, if they hope to be effective counselors. Throughout, the article emphasizes a commitment to "disciplined naïveté" and "informed not-knowing"-reminding readers that individuals can only begin to appreciate the richness of cultures different from their own.

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