Giving the Client a Voice in the Process

IMG_0017Yesterday, I took a drive out to the hinterlands to visit a habeas corpus client. I met up with a law school intern for the visit. During the time we spend together, the client what to know what he could do to assist in his case.

Over the course of my career, my thinking has evolved on the subject of clients and their desire to assist in their case. There’s a meme circulating among colleagues that says “don’t confuse your Google search for my law degree.” 10 years ago, I would have worn the t-shirt.

Then I try to imagine what it would be like to have no control over anything in my life and no freedom. I would want some input in my case. I spoke to a colleague who is an appellate lawyer in an indigent defense agency. She gives the clients a copy of their transcript upon request and encourages input. She has never experienced a downside with the practice. Never. Of course, at the end of the day, the lawyer chooses the issues. And knowing which issues to include is a big part of the art and science of law. But it doesn’t help the relationship to discourage the client from having a voice. I found an excellent law review article on the topic of how to allocate the decision making between the attorney and the client. The article suggests that a collaborative model focused on the client works best. In this model, their lawyer works to inform the client about options and empowers the client’s ability to choose as much as possible, having had the benefit of the lawyer’s experience and wise counsel.

So, here is what I told my client. I said to get in the law library every chance he could find. And I told him that if he finds anything that he thinks might be helpful to write me. He was happy with this advice. I think it made him feel like he had a voice in his fate. And who knows, sometimes clients come up with good ideas if we give them a chance.

Latest Resources

The Advocate's Key - A Law Podcast

Three Lessons From My Legal Podcast

The Advocate’s Key, my podcast, is as much for me as it is for the audience who listens to it. I choose guests because I want to learn from them or because I’m curious about their story.
Read More
mcdonough slip and fall accident

McDonough Man Injured in Slip and Fall Accident

Drew had been looking forward to Friday all week until he slipped and fell while walking. Who's fault was it?
Read More
how to prepare for a legal deposition

How to Prepare For a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case

Six months ago, you were in a car accident on Macon Street in McDonough. Another vehicle struck you from behind, and since then you have suffered from excruciating back pain. Today, you received a notice of deposition – what does that mean?
Read More