This article discusses another topic for clinical teachers to consider adding to their teaching agendas. In this paper, I identify the "value imperative" implicit in the attorney-client relationship and suggest that a perception by the client of high value in the relationship is necessary for its success. Briefly, I describe value in legal services as the client's perception of the ratio of benefits received from legal representation to the sacrifices necessary to obtain those benefits. The more the ratio favors benefits over sacrifices, the greater the value perceived by the client. I present a model describing value in legal services and suggest how lawyers (and law students) might study what makes legal services valuable to their clients.

Finally, I posit that it is possible (and desirable) to "create" value in the attorney-client relationship. By this is meant that a lawyer can affect her client's perceptions, and engage in acts which will exceed the client's expectations of the benefits to be received and sacrifices to be incurred throughout the representation. I conclude that skillful counseling and context-based decision making at pivotal "value points" in a representation can make the difference between a client who perceives her lawyer's services as valuable and one who does not. But why should clinicians teach their students about the need to create value for their clients in the legal services they provide? After all, the vast majority of clinics do not charge for their services. Most clinics have many more potential clients than can be served.3 And since most clinics serve poor or low income populations, there is certainly no shortage of legal need for clinics to meet.4 Moreover, even if we should try to teach students to create value, focusing on clients' perceptions of value may be more difficult for them because, as neophytes, they may not have their own sense of what is a valuable legal service.


Attorney-client Relationship

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Clinical Law Review

Publication Information

5 Clinical Law Review 117 (1998)


COinS Kenneth Margolis Faculty Bio