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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal

Abstract

Over the past decade, the literature on lawyering has paid increased attention to the impact of cultural differences on interactions between attorneys and clients. This essay assesses the latest generation of clinical textbooks on interviewing and counseling and how they seek to prepare student-lawyers for crosscultural work. It highlights differences in these textbooks' definitions of culture, measures of crosscultural success, descriptions of the dimensions along which cultures differ, the side(s) of the lawyer-client relationship on which they focus, and the behaviors they suggest. The essay argues these texts are at their best when they define culture both broadly and fluidly, when they encourage a generous curiosity about both clients' and lawyers' cultures, and when they effectively push lawyers to focus on their reactions to, and interactions with, others. The essay also urges the field to focus more specific attention on socioeconomic class and its cultural manifestations, on social cognition and sub-conscious social attitudes, and on the potentially destructive interplay of lawyers' professional socialization with prevailing stereotypes of low-income and working class people. It is imperative that clinical lawyering literature recognize and address these issues in order to decrease the level of exclusion and marginalization that many people of color, people from low-income and working-class backgrounds, and members of other subordinated groups experience in the legal system and profession.

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