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Law and medicine are both learned, licensed professions, practiced by demographically similar individuals. Each profession has a well-developed paradigm that governs the relationship between independent professionals and their clients. While physicians recognize that law is not science based, they may assume that the two professions deal with clients/patients in much the same way. This is not a correct assumption. The attorney-client relationship is profoundly different from the physician-patient relationship. This difference can lead to hostility and dangerous misunderstandings between physicians and attorneys.

The attorney-client relationship shares many characteristics with the physician-patient relationship: attorneys have special education and experience not possessed by clients; attorneys have a license that allow them to perform tasks that a layperson may not perform; attorneys must keep clients' matters confidential; and attorneys owe clients a special duty to put clients' interests before their own interests (a fiduciary duty). It is these shared values that lead physicians to assume that attorneys deal with clients' needs in the same way as physicians deal with patients.

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