We are all experiencing a great deal of change and uncertainty at present and the legal profession is no exception. Some of us may be dealing with very distressed or angry clients who were in the middle of a life changing legal matter when COVID-19 hit and are now faced with a delay that could last months, having huge implications for their personal life, business and wellbeing.
The lawyer-client relationship can be complex. Clients are often looking for more than just a lawyer – you are there to listen, empathise and advise and are often asked to play the role of teacher, bank, counsellor, doctor, parent, psychiatrist, Samaritan, or even magician!
There may be clients you may think about a lot, who require a lot of time on the phone or email, you may start to worry about them and they can sometimes become a burden. There may be clients who will be furious that their life hangs in the balance and may take it out on you. Legal training often leaves the lawyer ill-prepared for these kinds of highly emotive situations.
Here are a few tips:
-“I can see how angry, sad, scared you are…I will do what I can for you as your lawyer but I am just not able to help with….”
-“I wonder do you have anyone you can call when you feel like this?”
If you need to talk about a particular difficult client relationship call LawCare on 1800 991 801, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lawcare.ie
You might like to check out Fit for Law, a cross-jurisdictional free learning resource on emotional competence and professional resilience, developed for legal professionals in the UK and Ireland by The Open University and The University of Sheffield in collaboration with LawCare. Find out more at fitforlaw.org.uk
For more tips look at our vicarious trauma factsheet.
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