UILS, Chandigarh conducted it’s third edition of UILS National Client Counseling Competition, 2014 in which Sanya Agarwal and Gaurav Pathak from Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (RMLNLU), Lucknow emerged as the winners.
The interview was conducted by Campus Manager, Nupur Walia to grab some tips for those who intend to take up such competitions, as they are fast emerging.
Read on for a brilliant interview by the awesome winners!
Q: So what exactly happens inside the chamber in a Client Counseling Competition?
As the name of the competition itself suggests, the idea is to conduct a consultation session between a client (a student from host institution) and advocates (participants).
As you used the word ‘chamber’, it is indeed supposed to be like an advocates’ chamber. A client comes in and shares his/her problem with you.
It is very usual for a client to be anxious, distressed and even emotional and their situation could vary greatly according to the problems they are facing.
The challenge is to console the client and extract maximum information from the him/her while keeping the situation normal.
The next step is to suggest possible remedies.
Q: Style of conversation:
The conversation must be very simple and advocates must behave in a very calm and composed manner.
They should try to avoid the use of legal jargons, however in case, they use it then they must explain the meaning of each and every term to their client so that he will feel comfortable while talking to the advocate.
Q: Did you let your client do the talking first, waiting for him/her to finish and then asked the questions?
This is the best way, which you must adopt while counseling your client.
Since, always a restless client will approach you, so it is better to first listen to his problems calmly and then address it properly by asking relevant questions.
Q: What do the judges look for in a Client Counseling Competition?
Judges generally look at the skills of the counselors that how sincerely they are discussing the problem of the client.
They will see that whether the client is feeling comfortable with the advocates or he is not satisfied with the advice of the counselors.
Moreover, the judges also check the knowledge of law the counsels have and its application it means the kind of remedy they provide to their client.
Q: In a Client Counseling Competition what are some of the problem areas faced by participants?
As such, there is no problem area.
However, if the advocates do not have any knowledge about the law then it might create some problem while providing the remedy.
The most important skill is to know the method of handling your client and keep him in your confidence.
Q: Do you feel that your performance majorly depends on the client’s problem and his responses?
Yes, performance of the client plays a major role while dealing with the problem and this is the reason why you should listen to your client’s problem patiently and provide him with all possible types of remedy.
Q: How did you tackle the ticklish issue of charging appropriate fees with the client?
The best method to deal with such issues is to first prepare a Fee Structure and mention the fees as per your case.
I think that students should avoid giving stress on this issue, but if they can handle it gently then go for it. In cases where the client is poor or don’t have money then it is better to offer him service of probono cases.
Q: Do you consider the financial background of the client while stating your fees?
Yes, one should always look at the financial background of the client.
If your client is underprivileged then offer him the service of probono cases, this helps in increasing name and fame of the firm with which you are working and thus helps in grabbing more points.
Q: Preparing the law part:
One should be well aware about the procedural part of the relevant law and must have knowledge about the basics and for this, you can refer to any book which has basics in it.
Moreover, practice for it by giving mocks.
Q: Where do you think the lawyers can go wrong in dealing with their clients?
They should be calm while listening to their clients. There may be situations where clients behave in an annoying manner but you should not lose your patience.
Q: Professional ethics:
It is very important to behave professionally in such type of competitions since, you are dealing with your client which itself shows a professional relationship.
Q: Would you straightway suggest your client if a case can be made out or not? If not, are you able to suggest alternative remedies?
You should never say straightaway no to your client. Come on, you are an advocate and he has approached you for some remedy so always be helpful to him.
There are always at least two sides to a case and being a counselor, you should always look at the brighter side.
In a competition of this sort, the most important thing is communication, one should never give a client any high hopes and one should also not say that the client does not have any case at all.
Try suggesting him with all possible remedies that can be available to him including the alternate remedies.
Just try to make eye-contact with clients, don’t fumble while advising your client, be very clear and specific and descriptive to the client, and give respect to the client.
Every word should be used with conviction and you must be the person controlling the client and it should never be the other way round.
Q: Satisfaction or guarantee:
No, being an advocate you can just do your best to get all the remedies available for your client. Never give guarantee but assure him that you will make every possible efforts to win the case.
Q: Team work in client counseling competition:
Team work is one of the most important aspect of this competition since you participate as a team so the judges judge you on the basis of compatibility between the team members and their way of supporting each other’s arguments.