Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Empathy Breeds Success

Assisting clients toward a successful resolution of their criminal case requires great empathy. Understanding client needs, both short and long term, means a criminal lawyer must walk a mile in their client's shoes while maintaining objective professionalism. Trouble comes when the lawyer fails to invest empathy in their client's case, thereby failing to view the case from the client's perspective.

When criminal defense lawyers empathize with their clients they are better equipped to offer encouragement and sound legal advice. Recently, I accepted the case of a gentleman who had recently terminated his relationship with a prior attorney because the attorney had not maintained good communications. Our first objective was to demonstrate empathy for the client by promptly responding to his questions, returning his phone calls, and becoming aggressive in our motions practice. After a short period of time the client was noticeably more confident and appreciative of the effort being invested in his case. Remarkably, the tenor of his letters became hopeful as he recognized someone understood his point of view. All that was needed was empathy.

Walking in the client's shoes can consume a lot of time. It also takes a focused effort and a willingness to invest a bit of ourselves in each of the clients we accept. In the long run empathy pays off - certainly for the client- but also for the lawyer since we know we left nothing on the table at the end of the day.

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