Document Type

Article

Publication Title

South Texas Law Review

Publication Date

1996

Abstract

One of the largest groups of purported nonclients to whom lawyers might have obligations are members of bargaining units represented by unions. Despite the much publicized decline of labor unions, they have almost 16.4 million members. In addition, many workers are members of bargaining units represented by labor unions, but are not union members. The relationship of union lawyers to these millions of bargaining unit members, whether members of the union or not, is unclear. An examination of how this relationship influences and is influenced by labor law offers a fascinating case study of the synergy between the substantive law and the law and ethics of lawyering. The substantive labor law, which has legitimized representation of a union as an entity, both promotes collective action on the part of unions and protects the individual rights of bargaining unit members. The union's duty of fair representation calibrates these sometimes conflicting obligations. This case study suggests re-examination of the current practice of analyzing substantive law and legal ethics as separate and unconnected fields. The current practice is to view substantive law and legal ethics as intersecting circles, and to accept grudgingly that in the narrow area of intersection the substantive law and the law of lawyering are the same. A model more consistent with this case study would view substantive law and legal ethics as "warp and woof," as interlaced threads that together weave a whole tapestry.

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