Tuesday 8 May 2012

Client science

Roaming around the Exhibit Hall at this year's International Trademark Association (INTA) Meeting this year in Washington DC, I came across a neat little paperback published by Oxford University Press out of its New York office and obviously aimed at the US market -- but which looked as though it has plenty to offer non-US readers too, particularly for those with small practice in which the personal side of counselling and client relationships is not merely a bit of expensive veneer but the basis on which a practitioner-client relationship survives or withers.

The book is called Client Science: Advice for Lawyers on Counseling Clients through Bad News and Other Legal Realities, and it's by Marjorie Corman Aaron, Professor of Practice at the University of Cincinnati. According to the book's web page,
"Lawyers know that client counseling can be the most challenging part of legal practice. Clients question and often resist the complexities and uncertainties inherent in law and legal process. Honest advice from the lawyer can make a client doubt his or her allegiance and zeal. Client backlash may be directed at the lawyer who communicates bad news. Thus, the lawyer may feel torn between the obligation to clearly inform a client about weaknesses in legal positions and fear of damaging the client relationship. Too often, the lawyer struggles to counsel a particularly difficult client, but to no avail. 
Client Science is written to provide insight and advice to lawyers on how to more effectively communicate with their clients with regard to legal realities and difficult decisions. It will help lawyers with the always-difficult task of delivering "bad news," which will result in better-informed and thus more satisfied clients. The book explains applicable social science research and insights and translates them into plain language relevant to legal practice and client counseling. Marjorie Corman Aaron offers specific suggestions related to a lawyer's ordering, timing, phrasing, and type of explanation, as well as style adjustments for the lawyer's voice, gesture, and body position, all to impact client counseling and to improve the lawyer-client relationship".
All this stuff about gesture and body language sounds good. If it works with clients, one might even try it on one's colleagues ...

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