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Engaging with Lawyers

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

What is Legal Literacy?

Legal literacy, or legal awareness, is sometimes also thought of as public legal education. But it essentially empowers individuals regarding issues involving the law, who are not lawyers, judges or others in the legal industry.

The goals and objectives of legal literacy is for the public to:

  1. recognise when they have an issue that has a legal resolution, or they have a legal right or obligation
  2. learn how to find relevant free resources and information that you need
  3. learn how to find and work with a lawyer who has the correct skills for what you need
  4. learning how to communicate in a way that is clear and respected by your own lawyer or even others you are negotiating with
  5. learning how to take the necessary action to avoid problems, and where possible, how to help themselves appropriately
  6. having confidence that the legal system will provide a remedy and understanding of the process enough to know when justice has been done, and
  7. even being able to hold your lawyer accountable for quality of service and effectiveness. 

Legal literacy can empower people to demand justice, accountability and effective remedies. Legal issues always have the potential to become a crisis if ignorance prevents someone from anticipating the legal troubles and getting timely information or advice. Crises clearly magnify the impact on someone’s life unnecessarily. 

Without legal literacy people can also feel intimidated and alienated from the law. This may lead people from coming into conflict with the law, having poor experiences, and not being able to obtain help when they need it.

Traditional models of trying to promote legal awareness and legal literacy has typically been boring, hard to engage with, and not used as a preventative measure. It has been provided through lectures and workshops, crash programs, short courses, books, posters, brochures, and materials distributed primarily by government organisations.

The rule of law is that everyone is subject to the law – individuals, lawmakers, corporations, governments and Kings. But without legal literacy, the concept of the rule of law doesn’t provide the protects it should, if people are giving up their rights without knowing.

Hence, education and increasing legal literacy is imperative. 

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

Psychology of negotiating

Psychology of negotiating

More and more often, when talking a client through a strategy to approach negotiating, I am explaining psychology to them. Even this is a new tactic that I’ve adopted myself, because I would often keep the whole reasoning to myself and just explain what the best approach would be.

Even though clients often say ‘that’s why I’m hiring you; you know best’, I am talking them through more detail. This is also part of the psychology of negotiating – to also have your client on your side and fully invested in our course of approach being the correct one. I explain every step to them, and the reason for the step, and then I explain that it’s been done and the reaction we got.

negotiating

I have also had lots of clients come to me, unhappy with the result they got with another solicitor, and I wonder how much psychology that solicitor has employed in managing the expectations of their client and in employing a strategy.

Fundamental to negotiating is having an understanding of the mind and emotional state of the the other party, and often their lawyer as well. The opposing lawyer often has a lot of impact on the outcome of a negotiation, because many are emotionally and egotistically involved when they needn’t be. 

So what are the basic approaches to having a successful outcome to your negotiating?

  1. Separate people from the problem

This is really tricky, because we’re all people – even the lawyers! Like I’ve already said – choosing the right lawyer is important, because if the lawyer’s own feelings and ego get in the way, then your negotiation will be prolonged. 

So you, with encouragement and guidance from your lawyer, needs to narrow your focus down to the issues. Not how much water has passed under the bridge between the people negotiating. 

  1. Focus on interests, not positions

The key, then to move forward, is to focus on what each of the people actually want out of this negotiation. Not on the position they may have entrenched themselves into. 

What they want is psychological, not necessarily practical or financial. So, maybe this step returns to the people again, over the problem. But this is forward focused.

Most people want to move on, to retain their pride, and sometimes to inflict pain and shame on the other person. They want to feel like the winner.

  1. Invent options for mutual gain

So this is the lawyer’s job – make sure you feel like you are going to win. And also be able to convince the other party that they’re also getting a win.

Unfortunately, many in the legal industry believe that if both parties are unhappy, then it’s a fair solution. However, the aim is actually to have both parties feel like it’s fair and they’ve had a win!

Your success in negotiating a settlement or terms of an agreement often comes down to your selection of a lawyer. Choose well, and do your research first. 

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

How to Control Your Legal Fees

Depending on who you talk to, legal experiences can range from horror stories to feel good movies – but there is a way to control your legal fees. The genre of your legal experience as well the harsh reality of legal fees is however, to a large extent, within your control. 

Is there an alternative to going to a lawyer such as mediation?

Mediation can be used to facilitate negotiated settlements with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator. This allows the parties to control the decision-making process. Mediation is not a fix all remedy for example, it will not be appropriate for those matters where time is of the essence and or for matters that involve violence or risk to a child. 

Find a Lawyer with a Good Bedside Manner

It is important to assess your lawyer’s bedside manner on your first meeting, just like you would when ‘shopping’ for a doctor. That’s not to say that a good personality is enough, or that your lawyer is your best friend. A lawyer’s credentials and reputation is paramount, but you must also be able to instruct them according to your needs and you should be comfortable with their guidance. A good relationship with your lawyer will make you comfortable enough to relay what is a priority for you and on the flip side, your lawyer will be able to guide and advise you without causing you anxiety, stress or offence. It then leaves time for concentrating on the issue at hand – and you have more control of your legal fees. 

Diagnosis and Prognosis

Everyone is an expert and Google has a lot to say! A lot of advice is not necessarily the correct advice. It is important to obtain the right legal advice about your matter so that you are aware of your rights and obligations. If you’re running around doing a whole lot of unnecessary things, you won’t be in control of your legal fees. For example, if you have issues regarding a parenting matter, consult a lawyer that is experienced in Family Law. Once you have an accurate and reliable diagnosis, a prudent prognosis is sure to follow. You must know by now be equipped with the best course of action that will be unique to you and your counterpart i.e. an agreement at the outset of a matter is ideal for some parties and not appropriate for others.  

The Value of Respectful Communications 

‘An ounce of honey attracts more flies than a ton of vinegar’

You can be succinct and firm about what you wish to achieve but good manner and form will allow your wants and needs to be received better than if you relay them with emotion and ambiguity. Compromise can be reached easily when parties realise that they have different hierarchy of needs and wants, i.e. what is important to you may be what the other person is willing to compromise on and vice versa. Above all, be mindful that the legal system will not tolerate well vindictiveness and retaliation. Remember! Traits such as being reasonable and communicative have a direct correlation to the amount of time that your lawyer will intervene and act on your behalf and the flow on effect of your lawyers’ fees.

The Role of Your Lawyer – Advocate or Therapist?

Your lawyer should have a good bedside manner, but his or her role is to serve as your advocate and be a source for legal advice. They are not to be confused with counsellors, best friends or therapists. Hourly rates for professional counselling are significantly less than hourly legal fees and are often covered by extended health plans. Even if you don’t have extended health benefits, it is more cost effective to discuss the emotional aspects of your case with a psychologist or other counselling professional than with your lawyer. If you’re not calling your lawyer every day, you can control your legal fees.

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

Essential Advice on Choosing a Lawyer

Not all lawyers are made equal. Just because they’re a lawyer, it doesn’t mean they know the area of the law that you need help with. Also, the way legal firms run their businesses are very different – you need to be aware of a few things when you are choosing a lawyer.

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