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Competence and skill acquisition in lawyer client interviewing

By Avrom Sherr


This study considers the competence of lawyers. in carrying out the work of interviewing their clients and the value of training and experience in acquiring client interviewing skills.\ud Literature on legal skills is first surveyed to assist in understanding the concept and help decide on methodology. Literature on client, interviewing' and the educational value of experiencee reviewed to provide background to subsequent studies. \ud The first study provides an overall framework for solicitors' work and monitors, through observation and questionnaire, the work of a number of solicitors over a four day period. Client interviewing is found to take up a larger proportion of solicitors' professional work than other categories noted, and observation proves to be a more sound basis for studying detail than a questionnaire approach.\ud The second study assesses the competence of 27 new trainee solicitors at interviewing clients through a detailed monitoring of their performance over thirteen tasks using eighteen different techniques and providing thirteen heads of information. Their performance exhibited many of the deficiencies recognised in the literature.\ud The trainees were then randomly allocated to three treatment groups. One group received full training, one received training without audio-visual feedback of first interviews and the third (control) received no training at all. They all then undertook a second interview which was similarly assessed. Training was found significantly to enhance performance over the spectrum of measurement, an audio-visual feedback) especially enhanced behavioral aspects of performance.\ud In the final study, solicitors and trainees ranging widely in experience were videotaped interviewing their clients and similarly assessed. Experience was not found to have- the expected effect of enhancing performance significantly except in some minor respects, but it did increase the feeling of confidence in interviewing ability. \ud In conclusion, suggestions are made for stronger linking of training with experience in the production of new lawyers

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