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Hofstra Law Review

Abstract

The freedom of clients to discharge their lawyers at any time, with or without cause, greatly facilitates competition among lawyers. An era of lawyer mobility that has destabilized law firms and rewarded lawyers able to command the loyalty of their clients rests on the simple and largely unquestioned premise that clients should be free to discharge their lawyers, with or without cause and even, under most circumstances, in contravention of contract. This Article explores the norm of client choice and its impact on the market for legal services. It discusses the historical foundations of the norm, the policy reasons for and against the freedom accorded to clients to change their lawyers at any time, and ways in which the exercise of client choice is limited by application of other principles of law and ethics. For a comparative perspective, it also looks to standards of medical ethics to see the relative roles of consumer choice over service providers in the two professions.

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