Clash Of Cultures
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. 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 medical care practitioners to assume that attorneys deal with clients’ needs in the same way as they do. 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 medical care practitioners and attorneys.
The key difference between legal and medical relationships is that law is not based on a scientific paradigm. There have been efforts to bring social science and economic analysis techniques to bear on legal problems, but these have been of limited utility. The evolution of legal theory is a nonrational social process that most resembles religious disputation. One accepts a premise and then develops an intricate set of rules and theories based on that premise. We see Marxist-based legal systems, democratic- based legal systems, and legal systems such as Islamic law that are openly derived from religious beliefs. Understanding law and lawyers requires an appreciation of legal belief systems, as well as the statutes and cases.