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The cab-rank rule

John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum discusses the concept, which prevails in many other countries' legal systems but not in ours, of an ethical obligation on lawyers' part to take on all comers impartially as clients to be represented in court. He argues that the principle operates as part of a wider duty of "independence" which our system at best only vaguely demands of lawyers (but does traditionally demand of accountants). Without contradicting that view, I'd add that the cab-rank principle seems to me to work to reinforce the idea that clients rather than lawyers are "in charge" in the relationship, and, not unrelatedly, to discourage in various ways the entrepreneurial approach to legal practice so typical of the U.S.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.