The Office of Thrift Supervision's (OTS) unprecedented enforcement action against Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays and Handler (Kaye Scholer) prompted howls of protest from the legal community. OTS, it was claimed, was using its excessive power to redefine the role of the lawyer. This Comment confirms that OTS sought to impose duties on Kaye Scholer that conflict with professional ethics rules. The Comment then goes on to suggest that the conflict over professional responsibility in the Kaye Scholer case reflects, more fundamentally, a conflict over the role of the citizen, and the citizen's relationship with the state. Our adversarial system of dispute resolution is founded on our democratic assumption of citizen autonomy. Citizens are presumed to have independent interests and goals that the state must take into account when it regulates their activities. By contrast, OTS views the thrifts it regulates not as autonomous citizens but as instrumental means of achieving OTS goals. This Comment contends that it is this divergence in the concept of the citizen that gave rise in the Kaye Scholer case to the conflict regarding the appropriate role of the lawyer. The Comment concludes by exploring some normative questions raised by the OTS regulatory scheme.

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date


Publication Information

82 California Law Review 663-716 (1994)