As part of their academic deliverables, top law colleges in India like Asian Law College (ALC), Noida holds National Client Counseling Competitions for their students. Presented below are some of the experiences and tips shared by one of the prize-winning team members. who recently participated in the National Client Counselling Competition of ALC
Q: What exactly happens inside the chamber in a Client Counseling Competition?
A: As the name suggests, “Client Counseling” is all about making your client feel that you are as concerned about their problem as much as they are themselves worried about it When the client enters your chamber, they talk about his problem and lays bare all that he has gone through.
Since they are already aggrieved, the lawyer’s first step should be to calm him down. They should opt for a conversational style while talking to or interrogating their client. Being too professional might not be taken very well by both the client and the judges.
So, once the client feels comfortable with you, start inquiring about their problem and try to determine what remedy they seek. You should make them trust you. This confidence-building exercise will get you bonus points.
Even though their problem might sound complicated, you should give them some ray of hope and assure them that their problem will be solved and that you are willing to help them to the best of your abilities.
Once you have heard their side of the story, analyze the situation, apply the law in question and come up with a solution that fits your client’s problem.
- Adopt a normal conversational style of talking. Be a human first and then a lawyer.
- Be gradual in introducing the law to your client. Don’t bombard him with your legal knowledge.
- Explain legal concepts to your client in simple layman language. Excessive legal jargon is to be avoided.
- Be slow and steady. Winning the client’s trust is the first key to a successful client counseling session.
- Never guarantee the effectiveness of a suggested solution. False promises are dangerous and might disappoint the judges.
Q: What do the Legal personality who generally judge such Competitions look for in a Client Counseling Competition?
A: The person judging such competition observes and evaluate you on how well you are able to counsel your client and offer them a practical solution to their problem. The persons sitting in the capacity of the Judge of the competition are not there to test how well you know the law, but how well you can explain it to your client. So, flaunting your legal know-how is a big no.
The quintessence of the competition is to promote a healthy lawyer-client relationship. Judges also observe the comfort level which you have developed with the client and whether the client would be willing to come back to you for further help.
The main criteria for judging are:
- Ability to explain the law in simple language.
- Comfort level between the lawyer and client.
- The satisfaction of the client – whether your solution or approach to his problem would make him come to you again.
Q: In a Client Counseling Competition, what are the problem areas faced by participants?
A: Your performance in such competition largely depends on the client that you are provided. It follows, client’s responses and reactions might make or break your show. Moreover, the client’s problem is another important factor.
Remember, the competition is more of an extempore as the participants generally get the client on the spot whom they might see and insteract for the first time.
Besides, one does not know how the other teams have performed as scouting during the competition is not allowed.
Q: Are there any other tips for people participating in client counseling competitions?
- Be well-versed with the laws with which you will be dealing with.
- Have good knowledge of the remedy or the grievance redressal system under that existing law. The client does not need your knowledge of the law but instead needs a solution to his problem. So if you are suggesting a remedy, make sure you have legal backing.
- Never hint at anything which seems like champerty. It would be hara-kiri if you ask your client to share the monetary benefits which he might derive if he wins the case. Do not ever strike ‘business’ deals. Be a lawyer with high ethics. And, offer him pro bono services if he does not seem to be in a very good financial position.
- Last but not least, promise only what you can deliver. Do not sound overconfident or complacent.