This article has been written by Samridhi Pandey. The article deals with the challenges faced by the lawyers while drafting and handling a client.
The written word is one of the most important tools of the legal profession. Words are used to advocate, inform, persuade, and instruct. Drafting, to put in simple words, is the act of writing legal documents. Although mastering legal drafting takes time and practice, superior writing skills are essential to success, and you can take steps to improve yours. As the legal industry continues to disaggregate and is increasingly flooded with technology, clients and in-house counsel report that they want a more personalized legal relationship.
As hyper-personalization permeates the legal industry, clients will continue to push for more tailored service. While this push for developing relationships for a client may be learning more about the credentials and abilities of their lawyer or firm, it develops complex situations for the lawyer as it tangles the individual among a number of clients to attend, comply and satisfy all of their instructions. A lawyer aims to maintain basic principles of Attorney-Client privilege where they are supposed to maintain The Duty of Loyalty, The Duty of Care and The Duty of Confidentiality. But the time taken for the client to reach in a comfort zone with the lawyer and between building client pressure, there is the process of drafting, which becomes difficult to handle for the client.
This article is a step towards highlighting those problems and enumerating the solutions for them. It also presents an understanding as why is Drafting important and Effective ways of Handling Clients.
Why is drafting important?
The profession of Lawyer involves a number of steps to be taken before presenting oneself into courtrooms. You may have done an exceedingly good job while Client counselling and collection of evidence and witnesses but if you are unable to put your facts straightly and correctly for the draft which goes before the Judge will downcast the whole effort by you. A Judge primarily refers to the facts presented in the draft before him. It requires skills and patience to put out true statements with accuracy. A draft is an outline of arranged facts in precise style and language, which reaches out to convince the concerned authorities and dictate the view of one’s side of counsel. Drafting is making the authority understand the whole case in a brief manner.
While drafting many things are to be kept in mind, but basically three things are focused:
- Definite points, organized, concise and edit: It is the most essential key to good drafting. Even an amateur, by introducing rigid points in an organized manner within the concise limits can draft the document with apt accuracy. Editing the draft and improvising is another important key. Through editing, the final outcome of the draft will contain minimal errors enduring all the facts and with all little and big detailing with broader and narrower issues.
- Call for Action: It’s not just marketing hype – most legal writing needs to end with a discernible call to action. What is that? It’s the thing that you want the recipient to do.
You might want:
- The Judge to make particular orders.
- The other party to acquiesce to your demands.
- Your client to give you certain instructions.
If one can’t get to the end of your letter and know precisely what will be happening next and what one needs to do – then you’ve forgotten a critical element.
- Eliminate Errors: Since the documents are bound to go around the table among your clients, the other party and their lawyer and Judge, one does not want to showcase their weakness in drafts by addressing different or wrong issues. At times to maintain the language of the draft is also very crucial as it reflects one’s experience in the matters. At such times, the draft should be error-free as it reflects your standing on the matter, even before the proceedings.
With experience drafting skills surely reach its peak and to achieve such drafting skills, one must keep these core tips in mind, such as:
- Know your audience: if you don’t know the client then you might just have to take a stab here, but try and make an assessment of the client’s sophistication and desired inclusions.
- Know the purpose: what is the document for? Is it to advise, update, remind, encourage, exhort, justify, complain or cover the firm’s backside? Whatever it is – if you don’t know the purpose of the letter, how can you achieve it?
- Avoid Legalese or Jargon: Legalese – specialized legal phrases and jargon -can make your writing abstract, stilted, and archaic. Examples of legalese include words such as aforementioned, herewith, heretofore, and wherein. Ditch unnecessary legalese and other jargon in favour of the clear and simple. To avoid legalese and promote clarity, try reading your sentence to a colleague or substituting abstract words with simple, concrete terms. For example, instead of using “I am in receipt of your correspondence,” use “I received your letter.” It’s clearer and more succinct.
Handling Client at time of drafting
Lawyers do many things. They advise clients, negotiate for them, argue for them in courts and agencies, lobby for them in legislatures, and so on. Generalizing about lawyers is therefore risky. Lawyers therefore live and practice in many different worlds. This class surveys some of those worlds and tries to give you a sense of how the same rule can mean different things in different contexts. Meetings with clients are not always an absolutely smooth thing to deal with. It requires immense concentration and skills to comfort your client and to make up for their problems. There are certain problems associated while handling clients at the drafting, they are:
- A different purpose for different clients: Every client is important and requires an equal amount of time is true, but it is also true that some cases need more attention than others as they may confront the challenges which were never done before. This becomes difficult for the drafter as it becomes immensely difficult for some people to understand that their nature of work is different from the current work the drafter is engaged in.
- Coordination Challenges: It is difficult to handle different clients at the same time while one is drafting important documents. It leads to mixing up facts of two different clients which can create a large problem ahead.
- Unable to fulfil requests: it is often observed that a lawyer has to deal with unrealistic client expectations and requests. It becomes stressful to meet the ends of these two while focusing on drafting.
- Budget problems: It has been seen that clients want to spend less on the litigant, often devising the low budget problem for lawyers and which naturally leads the lawyer less interested in the case.
- Be in present: With an increasing number of cases, it is natural to think about your cases and their drafts after work hours. But while talking to a client, either in person or virtually, it is important to be present and give your client your undivided attention as it is the primary source for you to learn the facts.
- Don’t Over-react: Once the client is comfortable, one should not react in a manner which may be perceived as judgemental or even lose your viewpoint of neutrality in the case. But it must be remembered that you must certainly react in a positive manner which comforts the client.
- Don’t Over-analyze: It is important to not to analyze the situation of clients right then and there. In case you need some time to think about the case you should. Often for providing the best remedies to the clients, lawyers tend to over-analyze the situation which leads to less remedy than what they aimed for.
- Be verbal about the things and understand the theoretical basis: One has to be verbal about the time issues faced while handling different sets of clients and mention the piece which they actually can help the client. Also, it is important to keep in mind the theoretical draft as it provides information which not everyone can prepare.
LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join: