U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Relationship Between Lawyers and Their Clients (From Essays on the Theory and Practice of Criminal Justice, P 193-218, 1977, by Robert M Rich See NCJ-78656)

NCJ Number
I Arafat; K McCahery
Date Published
26 pages
Findings are reported from a study designed to ascertain the effect of ethnicity, age, sex, income, and type of lawyer (assigned or privately retained) on the quality of the lawyer-client relationship.
Dependent variables included the respondent's satisfaction with the lawyer's defense and the results of the case, opinion of the lawyer's fee, level of confidence in the lawyer, the adequacy of communication between lawyer and client, complaints about the manner in which the defense was handled, attitude toward the performance of legal aid lawyers, and personal preference for type of lawyer. A total of 800 self-administered questionnaires were distributed at different locations in the New York City metropolitan area, with 610 usable questionnaires returned. Of the 610 respondents, 34.4 percent had used a public lawyer and the remainder had used a private lawyer. The races of the subjects were 48.6 percent white, 35.7 percent black, and 15.7 percent Hispanic. Data show that the subjects were generally dissatisfied with their lawyers' services, with respondents having public lawyers considering them the 'worst' possible type of legal assistance. Public lawyers tend to direct rather than advise the client about what to do, and they are not considered by the client as a trusted confidant committed to protect the client's interests. Clients of private attorneys were generally more satisfied with the lawyer-client relationship. The most significant factor affecting client attitudes toward their attorneys was ethnicity, with black respondents showing particularly negative attitudes toward legal aid attorney performance. A total of 21 references are listed, and tabular data are provided.