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Keeping a Level Head

As an attorney, it can be extremely difficult to keep your personal feelings and emotions out of certain cases. In fields such as family law and immigration, the cases get extremely personal to the client and it can be hard to proceed with a client without letting emotions get the best of you. How do you handle a client who you’ve gotten to know over the weeks, heard their stories, and see how emotional they are? You want to address your clients properly without allowing your emotions to go haywire or seeming like you’re stone-cold. But how is that possible?

As an attorney, it is important for you to build a relationship with your clients. Really get to know them and really work for the benefit of your client. You need to be able to talk to them in a way that makes them feel comfortable enough to provide you with the important information needed to properly pursue their case. It is important to be able to relay both good and bad news to your client without being insensitive or “babying” your client. Although you want to be able to connect with your client, it is important you do not play up their emotions since it might cause the situation to become more intense and your client more difficult to keep on track with the discussion.

But how do you keep yourself from becoming overly emotional? How do you connect with you client, become invested enough to make their case a priority to you, yet not lose sight of your purpose and let your emotions cloud your judgement? There are some things you, as an attorney, can try to make sure each meeting stays on track and all goals get met.

  1. Come in to the meeting with an agenda. Stick to the proposed agenda and when your client starts to go off track, help them get back on track.
  2. Have a paralegal or law clerk attend meetings with you and ask them to take notes. While you are deep in discussion with your client, it may be helpful to have someone there to help take notes so you do not seem to get too distracted from what your client is saying. Your paralegal or law clerk can help make note of the important facts without fixating on the emotional intensity of the conversation.
  3. Record the meetings and review them at a later time with a clear head.

Now of course, your client must be aware of the confidentiality that is held between the client and yourself. And you must be sure to receive expressed consent from your client to have another person sit in on the meeting to take notes or to record the meeting. There are other ways to avoid having your emotions cloud your judgement but it is extremely important to go into meetings with a clear mind, focus your attention on your client, and keep the client’s goal in mind without letting emotions take over the meeting.

The practice of law can be extremely taxing and can take a lot out of someone emotionally. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and go in to every meeting well prepared.

-Jessica Nguyen