paper3 - Models of Excellence Contract Versus Covenant The...

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Models of Excellence: Contract Versus Covenant The professional-client relationship is one which has been under much scrutiny and examination, simply because there are various contrasting views on the controversial subject. One of the main issues in the professional-client relationship has to do with assigning the responsibility and authority of decision making. According to Michael D. Bayles in his analysis of the professional-client relationship, “One may view the relationship as one in which the client has the most authority and responsibility in decision making, the professional being his employee; one in which the professional and client are equals, either dealing at arm’s length or at a more personal level; or as one in which the professional, in different degrees, has the primary role.” Each of these understandings of the much debated relationship has rational support, and each has been suggested as a suitable ethical model of the relationship at one point or another. The “contract” and “covenant” understandings of the relationship are the two most distinguishable, and therefore most significant. Although there are valid arguments which prove that covenant and contract understandings of the professional-client relationship are both adequate, the covenant model is the most appropriate to the overall nature of the relationship as a result of its greater demand on the good moral character of the profession. The “contract” and the “covenant” are the two major models of the professional-client relationship. The contract is a statement, and thus is typically more binding. According to Bayles, “the ethical concept of a just contract is of an agreement freely arrived at by bargaining between equals.” It is implied through the understanding of a contract that there are mutual obligations and rights that each of the individuals or parties owe to one another and initially, both parties seem to be equals. Through this model, however, there is an actual contract, which by definition means that there is a legally binding exchange of promises or agreement between
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parties that the law will enforce. Contracts, which are considered to be legal documents, are said to be just and fair but ultimately the professional and the client are not true equals once the statement is put forth and implemented, particularly if it is binding. The professional has the upper hand because his knowledge far exceeds that of his client; many years of schooling or other training produces a sort of knowledge that the client could not attain without comparable training. A client’s lack of comprehension or understanding in a certain subject is the reason, in fact, that he seeks to form a contract with a professional. Another necessary aspect of a professional is a sort of philanthropy, which is not an aspect which the contract model relies upon, according to William F. May, another scholar who has analyzed the professional-client relationship.
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