Counsel and Care: Lawyers as Advisors
Care, support, and compassion are not characteristics that are typically associated with lawyers. Yet, the role of a lawyer should involve more than just advocacy and legal advice. As counselors and confidants, lawyers play an important role in offering informed and considerate counsel and care for their clients. By being both an adviser and a companion, lawyers help their clients to overcome some of life’s biggest legal challenges—all while offering meaningful moral guidance. In this article, we will explore the role of counsel and care, provide insight into the attributes of effective counsel and care, and discuss how lawyers can help their clients to navigate difficult legal matters in a more empathetic manner.
Unpacking the Role of Counsel and Care
Traditionally, the role of a lawyer has been described as one of ‘counsel’—meaning a knowledgeable, experienced, and trustworthy adviser. While this is still an important aspect of their role, it is increasingly being augmented by the notion of ‘care’. Care in this context thus refers to the capacity of lawyers to provide their clients with tangible emotional support as well as legal advice and advocacy.
Recognizing that legal matters can stir strong and often complicated emotions, counselors and carers extend beyond advice-giving to include the provision of a safe and understanding space for clients to discuss their concerns and issues.
Advice Beyond Advocacy: Lawyers as Compassionate Listeners
In addition to being competent counselors and dependable advisors, successful lawyers understand that they must also become compassionate listeners. This means that they must develop the necessary skills to be receptive to their client’s feelings and emotions, in addition to understanding the legal facts and circumstances of their case.
Moreover, lawyers must be able to exercise empathy to their clients and to better understand the context of their case. Such understanding can be invaluable in providing sound counsel and carefully considered advice.
At its best, counsel and care go hand-in-hand. By formulating a trusting relationship with the client, an informed and considerate lawyer can help them to gain confidence and understanding throughout the process. This in turn, allows the lawyer to move beyond a simple advisor-client relationship and form a friendship built on mutual respect.
Core Attributes of Effective Counsel and Care
Being a good counselor and carer requires a few key attributes. These include:
- Discretion: The capacity to be discreet and adhere to professional ethics is important for lawyers who want to provide their clients with a safe sounding board to talk about any issues they may be facing.
- Curiosity: A successful counselor requires an inquiring mind to really get to the heart of what needs to be discussed with their client. By being interested and passionate about a client’s story, lawyers can help them to gain clarity on complicated issues.
- Empathy: Being able to really understand the client’s feelings and emotions is crucial for any successful lawyer, as it helps to achieve a better legal outcome. Empathy can go a long way towards building trust and a strong relationship with the client.
- Patience: Lawyers must also be patient with their clients and offer them their undivided attention. A lack of patience can undermine the trust that a client has placed in the lawyer, so it’s imperative to give them enough time to voice their concerns.
Informed Strategies for Navigating Legal Matters in an Empathic Manner
Having established the attributes necessary to be a successful counselor and carer, lawyers should then formulate clear and concise strategies for providing informed and compassionate counsel to their clients.
At the core of this should be a firm understanding of the legal issues involved, as well as an appreciation of their client’s emotional needs to get the best outcome possible. This requires lawyers to draw on their considerable knowledge and skills to craft a strategy that is both legally sound and emotionally effective.
Moreover, adopting an appropriate Line of Action (LOA) at the outset of any case is essential in terms of providing clear and focused advice to the client. This is important for lawyers, as it helps them to take control of the case and to ensure that the advice provided is tailored to the particular facts and circumstances of that case.
What Clients Appreciate: Balancing Compassion and Firmness
When providing counsel and care, lawyers must also ensure that they keep an appropriate balance between compassion and firmness.
On the one hand, before providing legal advice or advocacy, counsel and care are important. This calls for lawyers to maintain a warm relationship with their client and to provide them with the necessary moral support to face the challenges of their case.
On the other hand, lawyers should also ensure that they remain firm and decisive when providing legal advice. This does not mean sacrificing compassion—instead, it means being true to the client’s best interests, even in the face of difficult decisions.
Unexpected Benefits of Counseling for Lawyers
Encouragingly, providing counseling and care also offers some unexpected benefits for lawyers. By engaging in meaningful conversations with their client, lawyers can build deeper relationships with them, which can, in turn, make it easier to handle the legal aspects of their case.
Moreover, such engagements also allow lawyers to stay abreast of the latest developments in the legal world and to hone their skills in legal problem-solving. Finally, by being a confidant to their clients, lawyers can also benefit from a greater sense of personal and professional fulfillment.
Crafting Holistic Solutions to Legal Problems
Good counsel and care offer the potential for holistic solutions to legal problems. By being an adviser and a companion, lawyers can help encourage and empower their clients to make informed decisions and to devise collaborative solutions—whether those concern legal matters or their overall life outcomes.
By viewing cases from a holistic perspective, lawyers can help their clients to find meaningful and creative options for resolving issues. This allows lawyers to draw on a range of skills, as appropriate to the particular facts and circumstances of the case.
Letting Go of Litigation: Enhancing Life Outcomes
Lawyers should also use their understanding and expertise to help their clients move away from a litigation mindset. Litigation may not always be in their client’s best interests, so finding alternatives to a court battle can be beneficial to achieving meaningful life outcomes.
In this regard, counseling and care are important in terms of helping to bridge the gap between emotions and logic. In doing so, lawyers are in a unique position to inform, comfort, challenge, and encourage their clients to consider their legal options.
Making a Difference: Positively Shaping Lives Through Counsel and Care
All in all, lawyers who are well-versed in the art of counsel and care offer their clients a unique combination of knowledge, skills, and compassion. In so doing, they can significantly contribute to the success of their clients.
By carefully assessing their client’s emotional needs and offering their insight into the particular facts and circumstances of the case, lawyers can help to guide their clients towards achieving better life outcomes.
The role of counsel and care is thus an invaluable one, and by situating themselves in this role, lawyers help to positively shape the lives of their clients.
Counsel and care can be a powerful tool for lawyers in terms of guiding their clients through the most difficult of legal challenges. By balanced compassion with firm legal advice, lawyers can help their clients to achieve better life outcomes. In this way, lawyers bring to their engagement with clients both expertise and understanding, serving as both an adviser and companion.