Client Science: Advice for Lawyers on Counseling Clients Through Bad News and Other Legal Realities


Lawyers know that client counseling can be the most challenging part of legal practice. Clients question and often resist the complexities and uncertainties inherent in law and legal process. Honest advice from the lawyer can make a client doubt his or her allegiance and zeal. Client backlash may be directed at the lawyer who communicates bad news. Thus, the lawyer may feel torn between the obligation to clearly inform a client about weaknesses in legal positions and fear of damaging the client relationship. Too ...

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Client Science: Advice for Lawyers on Counseling Clients through Bad News and Other Legal Realities

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Lawyers know that client counseling can be the most challenging part of legal practice. Clients question and often resist the complexities and uncertainties inherent in law and legal process. Honest advice from the lawyer can make a client doubt his or her allegiance and zeal. Client backlash may be directed at the lawyer who communicates bad news. Thus, the lawyer may feel torn between the obligation to clearly inform a client about weaknesses in legal positions and fear of damaging the client relationship. Too often, the lawyer struggles to counsel a particularly difficult client, but to no avail.

Client Science is written to provide insight and advice to lawyers on how to more effectively communicate with their clients with regard to legal realities and difficult decisions. It will help lawyers with the always-difficult task of delivering "bad news," which will result in better-informed and thus more satisfied clients. The book explains applicable social science research and insights and translates them into plain language relevant to legal practice and client counseling. Marjorie Corman Aaron offers specific suggestions related to a lawyer's ordering, timing, phrasing, and type of explanation, as well as style adjustments for the lawyer's voice, gesture, and body position, all to impact client counseling and to improve the lawyer-client relationship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"No one wants to deliver bad news, but we all have to do it. In Client Science, Marjorie Corman Aaron makes sense of intuition and translates gut feelings into an effective operating procedure for difficult conversations that we dread having. Her expert guidance and analysis will help lawyers handle tough client moments with grace, confidence, and control."
—Russ Bleemer, Editor, Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation

"In this highly readable book, Marjorie Corman Aaron focuses on the real world in which our clients make decisions. She presents a clear-eyed, holistic review of our clients' needs, perspectives, emotions, and false beliefs. Brimming with practical insights and supported by real-world examples, her advice will help counselors to assist clients in making wise decisions about risk — which is, after all, what our clients want and need from their lawyers."
—Joseph D. Heyd, Director & Associate General Counsel, Global Litigation
The Procter & Gamble Company

"Lawyers need emotional intelligence as well as analytical abilities. Based on years of experience both as a classroom teacher and a mediator, Marjorie Corman Aaron's new book, Client Science is a 'must read' for lawyers who want to communicate more effectively with their clients and create more productive relationships."
—Robert H. Mnookin, Williston Professor of Law and Chair, Program on Negotiation,
Harvard Law School

"Marjorie Corman Aaron explores the characteristics that distinguish a great counselor from merely a good lawyer. Knowledge, strategy and skill all define a good lawyer, but it is emotional intelligence and the ability to communicate effectively that define a counselor who understands that client communication is not just about speaking; it is also about hearing and translating. Professor Aaron helps us understand how body position, posture, and motion all play a role in how clients listen, what they learn and how we are heard by them. Client Science should be mandatory reading for every lawyer entering the practice of law today."
—Regina M. Pisa, Esq., Chairman, Goodwin Procter LLP

"Client Science is a thoughtful and enlightened manual for perhaps the most difficult of all lawyering skills — handling the client. Starting from a base of practical experience and social science, Marjorie Corman Aaron provides wise advice in an important area that is frequently neglected, if not ignored entirely. The book is not only clear and persuasive, it is one of those rare books that manages to be practical, entertaining, and thought-provoking at the same time. I strongly recommend it to lawyers and law students alike."
—F. Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge, District of Massachusetts

"Given the wide array of books addressing the many aspects of business and professional success, it is surprising how few texts there are offering practical advice for legal practitioners. Marjorie Corman Aaron's Client Science is a gem, providing common sense yet thought-provoking perspective on the challenges of counseling clients and practical advice for doing it effectively. The lessons are all the more powerful because they afford helpful insight and concrete approaches to lawyers at all stages of their career. This is a book I expect to go back to over and over again as long as I am practicing, and I strongly recommend it to law students, lawyers, faculty and professional development managers."
—Laura C. Hodges Taylor, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP

"The bottom line is that effective communication skills are one of the keys to successfully representing your clients. Sure, skilled legal representation is important, but that's all for naught if, at the end of the day, your unhappy, confused, and frustrated clients end up seeking replacement counsel. So if nothing else, the lesson to be learned is that better communication results in better legal representation. This book will help you achieve both and is well worth the investment."
—Nicole Black, Rochester Daily Record

"Professor Aaron is a 'communication scholar.' She has researched the subject thoroughly and documented references in copious footnotes...This book would make a for new attorneys. It would be equally appreciated by experienced attorneys who aspire to be mediators. It is virtually a manual on communication. That it covers the topic so exhaustively makes sense because Professor Aaron is expert in both the psychology and the mechanics of communication."
—Kerri W. Feeney, Trial News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199891900
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/4/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,353,988
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Marjorie Corman Aaron is Professor of Practice and Director, Center for Practice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she teaches courses in negotiations, client counseling, mediation, and decision analysis. She is also an active mediator, arbitrator, and trainer in negotiation and dispute resolution in Cincinnati, Ohio, and previously served on the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, the Ethics Commission of the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, and the Publications Committee of the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution. Until July, 1998, Marjorie Aaron was the Executive Director of the Program on Negotiation ("PON") at Harvard Law School, where she was also a lecturer teaching negotiation. Prior to joining PON, Ms. Aaron was a Vice President at Endispute (now known as JAMS-ADR), and a panel mediator for the Middlesex Multi-Door Courthouse. She has designed and taught numerous workshops on mediation, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, and litigation decision analysis for law firms, corporations and universities. She is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, cases, and guides in the field of negotiation, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution.

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