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The Critical Resource Theory of Fiduciary Duty

"Fiduciary law is messy. Courts routinely impose fiduciary duties in myriad relationships, including trustee-beneficiary, employee-employer, director-shareholder, attorney-client, and physician-patient. In each of these relationships, courts require fiduciaries to adhere to a general obligation of loyalty, 1 but countless variations on that theme tailor the general obligation to the specific context. In addition, courts regularly impose fiduciary obligations ad hoc in relationships where one person trusts another and becomes vulnerable to harm as a result. 2 Surveying this landscape, one of the leading commentators on the law of fiduciary obligation concluded that it is "atomistic," 3 and despite attempts to articulate a principled description of fiduciary relationships, 4 the prevailing view remains that fiduciary law is "elusive." 5 The purpose of this Article is to craft a unified theory of fiduciary duty."