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This article presents a qualitative research approach to exploring attorney-client communication in an urban public defense system. The study drew upon procedural justice theory [PJT], which emphasizes relationships between satisfaction with system procedures and compliance with system demands. Interpretive analysis of interview data from 22 public defense clients revealed four major themes. PJT accounted well for three themes of communication time, type, and content, highlighting relationships between prompt, iterative, complete communication and client satisfaction. The fourth theme involved clients exercising agency, often due to dissatisfaction with attorney communication. This theme was better accommodated by legal consciousness theory, which emphasizes that diverse experiences with law include manipulation and opposition alongside compliance. Implications for policy and research are discussed.