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12 Clinical Law Review 329 (2006)


Drawing on narrative, post-colonial, clinical and other critical theory, this article explores the role and necessity of critical reflection by lawyers in the construction of clients' stories in representation. In particular, the piece is framed by the experiences of transgender clients and their student attorneys. The piece begins by examining the "problem of representation" - the challenge of seeing and hearing clients' stories, particularly when those stories do not fit in to our understanding of how the world works. It moves on to describe first the "official stories" that govern how the legal system treats transgender people and second how those stories are themselves porous, based as they are on assumptions that don't adequately address the particular issues confronting the particular client who has come into contact with the legal system. The third part examines how in particular cases, with critical reflection, law students and lawyers were able to see and hear, and thus represent, their transgender clients. The piece concludes with the suggestion that the representation of transgender clients can be used as a metaphor for all client representation: if we as lawyers notice what we bring to the representation - both our assumptions and our expertise - we are able to hear our client's particular story and work with her to construct a new story that both resonates for the client and can be heard and believed by the legal decisionmaker. In this way, critical reflection is a skill that makes us better lawyers for all our clients.