Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The role of the lawyer in labor arbitration must be appraised in the light of his function in society generally and the unique demands of the institution of collective bargaining, of which arbitration has become an integral part.

The role of the lawyer generally is to assist in resolving conflicts among individual and group interests within a framework of rules developed by the common law or by legislation, as interpreted and applied by courts and administrative agencies. Operating within that framework, the lawyer advises his client whether and how he can accomplish his immediate objective. The professional skills which he employs include analysis and advice, negotiation with opposing interests, drafting contracts or other documents, and advocacy before a court or administrative agency.

In applying these skills to ordinary conflicts, the lawyer as a rule feels no responsibility to the institution of which his client is a part--banking, insurance, real estate and the like. He does not usually concern himself with the impact of his advice or actions upon the interests of his client's adversary, third parties or the public, or upon the long range economic or social interests of his own client, such as the possibility of losing a valuable customer or status in the community by starting a lawsuit. There may be exceptions, as in the case of a lawyer advising a client against filing a petition for divorce because of his concern for the institution of marriage or for the welfare of children who may be involved. By and large, however, the lawyer leaves questions of institutional interests or economic or social values unanswered, without feeling remiss in the performance of his professional obligations.