open menu

Experiential Learning

Interesting Outcome for Popular Textbook

A book on lawyers as counselors taps into universal truth: wisdom makes sense in any language.

Professor Paul Tremblay, co-author of "Lawyers as Counselors" 

Call it what you may—“THE” textbook on client-centered lawyering, “THE” bible of clinical training, “THE” go-to for learning legal interviewing and counseling—this book is ubiquitous in law school classrooms across the country.

But what one might not expect of Lawyers as Counselors: A Client-Centered Approach, says BC Law professor and one of its co-authors Paul Tremblay, is its forthcoming translation into Japanese.

While the translation of legal books into foreign languages is certainly not unheard of, especially in comparative law circles, it is also not that common, due in part to the fact that laws—take Property, for example—are generally specific to the nation they govern and are not that useful elsewhere.

So, why did West Academic Publishing agree to support this endeavor? Tremblay postulates that it’s because the content is grounded in behavioral psychology, not legal doctrine. It also helped that the biggest and oldest literary agency in Japan asked for it. And that a law professor in Japan, Ikuo Sugawara, had come across the first edition of the book in the 1990s during her research in lawyer and client communication, and was primed for an opportunity to translate it.

The current edition of Lawyers as Counselors—whose other co-authors are David A. Binder and Paul B. Bergman, UCLA Law scions of clinical education, and Ian S. Weinstein of Fordham Law—is the fourth in the four decades-long series. According to the preface of the upcoming edition, the first printing challenged the dominant ideology that it was lawyers’ role to decide which courses of actions were in clients’ best interests. It did so by creating “a new lawyering ethos of ‘client-centered’ lawyering,’” an idea that many considered revolutionary at the time.

Now the norm, today’s best practices for the interaction between lawyer and client are described in detail in Lawyers as Counselors, and taught with the help of case studies and experiential training. There are echoes in the modern lessons of the original authors’ intentions to “provide a description of the objectives of the legal interviewing and counseling processes, the forces that motivate clients to participate in these processes, and the basic techniques which are needed to successfully achieve the goals of legal interviewing and counseling.”

The current authors put it this way: “In a client-centered legal culture, clients have dignity, autonomy, and the capacity to make decisions that they consider to be in their best interests, informed by lawyers’ knowledge, experience, and judgment.”

That’s a belief that can be translated into any language, Japanese included. Though the laws of countries may be different, says Sugawara, “I think the client-centered approach is a very effective way to establish a good relationship between client and lawyer, even in Japan—and maybe anywhere in the world.”