Meet Your Clients Where They Are

In a compelling transcript, attorney Michael Cowen sheds light on the crucial element of understanding clients in injury and wrongful death cases. 

He emphasizes that these cases are not just files; they represent human beings whose lives have been forever altered by someone else's negligence. 

Here, we summarize Cowen's insights into the importance of truly knowing your clients and their stories:

1. Beyond the Office and Conference Room:

Cowen stresses that effective representation goes beyond the confines of the office or conference room. To truly understand clients, lawyers must venture into their world. This involves visiting their homes, spending time with them, and most importantly, listening.

2. Observing the Details:

To gain insight into a client's life, Cowen encourages lawyers to pay attention to the details. For instance, in a death case, looking at the mementos and shrines dedicated to the deceased on the client's walls can provide a glimpse into the depth of their loss and love.

3. Revealing Limitations:

Cowen shares an example of a client who initially denied any limitations after losing her arm. By going to dinner with her and observing how her boyfriend assisted her in cutting her steak, they uncovered the truth. This opened the door to understanding the client's daily struggles and addressing her defensiveness.

4. Identifying Three Key Elements:

Cowen highlights the three critical aspects lawyers should explore when uncovering a client's story:

What They Loved Before: Lawyers should inquire about what brought joy to their clients' lives and who they shared those moments with.

What They Live With Now: Understanding the client's current limitations, the need for modifications in daily activities, and the choices they have to make between enduring pain or giving up beloved activities.

Hope for the Future: Lawyers should creatively explore how financial compensation can improve the client's life. This may involve devising life care plans or finding ways to restore clients' ability to enjoy activities they loved before their injury.

5. Empowering Clients through Understanding:

By taking the time to truly know their clients, lawyers can empower them and become better advocates. The clients' stories, struggles, and hopes can be effectively conveyed to the jury, facilitating a deeper understanding of their experiences.

In conclusion, Michael Cowen's insights remind legal practitioners that personal injury and wrongful death cases extend far beyond legal paperwork. 

To achieve justice for their clients, lawyers must invest the effort and time required to understand their stories, struggles, and dreams. 

This profound understanding not only enhances legal representation but also underscores the human side of the legal profession.


Speaker 1 (00:11):
If you're gonna handle injury and death cases, you have to really get to know your clients. A case isn't just a file, not just a set of medical records. There is a human being that had a life before and that life was either ended or changed for the worst because of someone else's negligence. And it's our job to dig deep and find out what was that life. You're not gonna do that just sitting in your office. You're not gonna just do that in a conference room. But you come in a conference room and you are in this fancy place and you're wearing your coat and tie, you're in your world. You're not in their world. You're not going to get everything out of them. If you want to really know your clients, you have to meet them where they are. You have to go to their house, you have to spend time with them, you have to listen.

You need to look. What do they have up on the walls in a death case? Do they have almost like a little shrine to the person? You know, pictures other things from the person who passed away, different mementos. I'll give you an example. We had a case where a client lost her arm, and she was trying to tell us that, no, I can do everything. I have no limitations whatsoever. Well, we went to dinner with her and she sat there an extra, her boyfriend, and she ordered a steak waiter came. And without even asking, the boyfriend takes a steak cuts it, puts it back in front of her. Well, that's something she couldn't do before. And that led to the, okay, let's go through your day and spend time. How do you get dressed? Is it the same way you don't have hands to button. Event after event until we were able to get past her defensiveness?

Because she didn't want to admit that she had any limitations because it was so hard for her to accept. Finding out the truth, which is, what is your day like? How is your life different now? Another thing you have to do is we look at three things when we're trying to find a client story. First, what did they love to do before? What brought joy to their lives? And who did they do those things with? The second thing we look at is what do they live with now? What can't they do anymore? What is it that they can do, but they have to do differently? They have to modify the way they do it. And then what are the things that you have to make a choice? I can either not do this activity, or if I do it, I'm gonna have pain. So I used to love to play baseball and I'm not, you know, I can play baseball with a back injury, but I know when I go out there and I'm swinging and I'm twisting and I'm running that I'm gonna be in bed that whole next day in horrible pain, taking tons of painkillers because it's gonna make everything flare up and hurt again.

So then I have to make that choice. Do I play baseball or do I give up what I love because I don't want to be in pain the next day. And those are the things we have to learn when we get to know our clients. The third thing we want to look for is what is the hope for the future? You know? And that takes a lot of creativity sometimes, you know, how can money that the jury allows make this person's life better? And sometimes we do that with a life care plan, but sometimes we have to get creative and, and what are the things you used to do? How can we modify them and do them differently? In an amputation case, not just having a prosthetic, but what's a prosthetic that lets you run? What's a prosthetic that lets you swim? What's a prosthetic that lets you do whatever the things you did before? So if you're gonna do personal injury or wrongful death cases, you have to take the time and put in the effort to really know your clients and learn their stories so that we can tell those stories and share them with the juries and get justice for them.

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