December 2012 Bar Bulletin
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December 2012 Bar Bulletin

Yin Meets Yang in a Conflicted World

By Robert W. Zierman


It's The Holiday Season1 and amongst all the revelry of song, hanging out lights, trimming trees and attempting to remain bipedal at the mall, a number of folks will celebrate the birth of the one considered by many to be perfect.

Christians believe Jesus is the ultimate agent to the world as the "Son of God." This allows us to ponder the topics of agency, religious world views and this month's topic - ethics.

Below, I seek to do this. Yet, just as a bird likely fails to recognize the properties of air and a fish doesn't fully comprehend water, I will seek to facilitate this understanding with an outside view. This just means I am going compare and contrast this all with China.

First, here in the United States, barring disclosure of dual agency, the presumptive default is that a principal receives a duty of full loyalty from the agent. And, of course, as attorneys we are held to an explicitly higher standard.

RPC 1.72 is not just a gauntlet dissuading dual agency. Au contraire, any attorney attempting to represent in a dual capacity has about as high a chance of successfully carrying out this balancing act as a tightrope walker surviving a stroll across a line 1,000 feet above a minefield during a windstorm.

The upshot is that we take sides. And this reinforces our binary, Christian heaven or hell world view.

From my vantage point as a civil lawyer, I find, if left unchecked, either the opposing party, my client or worse - both - will often project the tortured appearance of Lucifer onto the other. This virtually forecloses any possible prospect of sympathy for the devil.

It is this world view that assists to drive people, often wrongly, toward litigation. Unfortunately, the structure of litigation reinforces this binary perception while actually doing something else entirely.

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