Understanding the client's perspective - overcoming the failure to communicate effectively
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This article concerns communication skills for lawyers. In the context of legal practice, communication may be defined as the process of accurately and perceptively receiving information from clients about their substantive, procedural and psychological needs and of giving information and advice to clients in a way that is most likely to be understood and remembered by them. Effective communication is fundamental to many aspects of legal practice, including client interviewing, settlement negotiations and litigation. The article examines a number of components of communication with a focus on listening skills and non-verbal signals such as body language. It also identifies impediments to effective communication, including: flawed assumptions that clients and lawyers make about each other, the interviewing process, and the law; and cognitive biases, such as stereotyping to which every human being is prone. It offers a range of techniques for improving communication between clients and lawyers.
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