Lawyers tend to be very task-oriented. As some say we like to get from “A to Z” quickly. I think we may be too quick and as I learn more about how people face loss and grief and proceed through the mourning process I believe that we do a disservice to our clients and perhaps miss opportunities to learn more about our client’s specific loss and in turn may miss opportunities to present a more complete damages case on their behalf by being “too efficient.”
Permanent life-altering injury to one’s self or death to a loved one shakes a clients world.
The complexity of feelings, behaviors , thoughts and experience are unique for each client , but nearly always clients feel isolated. They feel different as a result of their loss and often are treated differently by those around them, whether through ignorance or fear, and support from others is often lacking which increases the feeling of isolation.
Studies indicate that successful adaptation to loss is affected positively by the amount of peer support those who are suffering receive. We are lawyers, not therapists, but helping our clients as they adapt to permanent change will help us better understand what our clients are going through and that will permit us to be better and more affective advocates on their behalf.
Try listening to a client, instead of feeling compelled to speak or direct, and let the client know that you want to know what it is like for him or her as they struggle with their loss. What you hear will make you a better lawyer and human being.
A partner of the Anapol Weiss law firm in Philadelphia, PA, Joel Feldman has successfully represented injured victims and families for more than 30 years. Feldman founded End Distracted Driving (EndDD) after he suffered the loss of his daughter Casey in a distracted driving accident in 2009.