Thursday, 4 June 2009

Lawyer-Client Relationships

Banker on Bishopsgate
(Darrell Berry)

I have just posted on SSRN the final revised version of my paper on lawyer-client relationships. It is "Ambiguous Allegiances in the Lawyer-Client Relationship: The Case of Bankers and Lawyers".

The paper deconstructs the prototypical dyadic lawyer-client relationship in the context of corporate transactions. Most lawyer-client analyses view the relationship as a direct unmediated one between the two. I argue this is illusory and that without understanding the context of business transactions, much about the relationship is omitted or missed from analysis.

At a minimum the relationship is triadic. If, for example, a client is borrowing funds from a bank for an investment, even though the client's lawyer's primary duty is to the client, the lawyer always has an eye on the future business that might come from the bank. The lawyer's allegiances are pulled more ways than one.

For example, Jonathan Knee in The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade That Transformed Wall Street (2006), wrote of one deal:
This episode highlights an important and inherent conflict between banker and client in sales processes. After a successful transaction, the client disappears and any future business will come from the universe of suitors. This creates a sometime irrestible incentive to provide, or give the appearance of providing, some form of subtle preferential treatment to those most likely to offer something in return at a later date.
The paper uses a mix of interview data, ethnography, and documentary sources. I would appreciate any comments and feedback.

1 comment:

jason said...

I wonder how much of this might tie in with the research on chinese walls in many a corporate governance study.