Seminar  MOOC

Effective Communication with the Legal Services Client 2014

Course Date: May. 23, 2014

Why you should participate

As states enact new pro bono requirements and ease some restrictions on pro bono representation, it is becoming more important than ever for lawyers to understand the unique challenges posed by pro bono clients. PLI’s first open interactive course is free to anyone who wants to learn more about how to meet the unique challenges posed by pro bono clients. This course will teach new attorneys and seasoned professionals how to work effectively and cooperatively with their pro bono client.

What you will learn

You will learn proper techniques for getting to know your pro bono client including:

  • How to identify common problems that clients living in poverty have with access to resources (e.g., transportation, child care, Internet access).
  • How to create an environment where clients living in poverty feel safe enough to communicate fully and honestly with their lawyer.

You will learn how to communicate effectively with your pro bono client by:

  • Implementing strategies for establishing a trusting and productive relationship with a client living in poverty.
  • Recognizing the signs of poor literacy skills, especially reading comprehension, and make the necessary accommodations.
  • Establishing effective lines of communication with clients whose native language is not English.

You will learn how to educate your pro bono client about the legal process by:

  • Preparing clients for meetings and courtroom appearances.
  • Setting expectations for client behavior in court.
  • Preparing clients for how judges and other court personnel may speak to them and treat them.

 You will learn how to help your pro bono client make informed choices by:

  • Explaining legal options, the negotiation process, and court proceedings in a manner that is understandable to the client.
  • Developing and documenting settlement authority to ensure that decisions to make, accept, or reject offers are the client’s and are not the result of the attorney imposing his/her will on the client.

Who should participate

All attorneys assisting pro bono clients through representation or in clinical settings, firm pro bono coordinators and partners, corporate law department pro bono managers, law clinic students and faculty, and public interest and non-profit organization attorneys and staff would benefit from attending this program.

Schedule (all times are approximate):

Episode One: The Initial Client Meeting (45 minutes)

  • Topic 1 of 2: Initial Client Meeting Procedures
  • Topic 2 of 2: Establishing the Attorney-Client Relationship
  • Discussion Topic: The Hidden Rules of the Legal System

Episode Two: Barriers to Effective Legal Representation (40 minutes)

  • Topic 1 of 2: Resource Barriers
  • Topic 2 of 2: Communication Barriers
  • Discussion Topic: Overcoming Barriers

Episode Three: Honesty and Confidentiality (30 minutes)  

  • Topic 1 of 2: Honesty
  • Topic 2 of 2: Confidentiality
  • Discussion Topic: Limitations and Exceptions to Confidentiality

Episode Four: Capstone Activity (30 minutes)

  • Topic 1 of 1: Capstone Activity

Episode Five: Wrap-Up (10 minutes)

  • Course Wrap-Up


Alicia Aiken – Executive Director, The Confidentiality Institute

PLI makes every effort to accredit its Interactive Learning Center Programs. Please check the Credit Information box to the right of each product description for credit information specific to your state.

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