(Notes from Atty. Sabrina Balgamwalla’s “Client Handling” session with LiLAC based on the article FIVE HABITS OF CROSS-CULTURAL LAWYERING by Sue Bryant and Jean Koh Peters)
The practice of law is indeed a tough and excruciating job. As many lawyers would say that it takes tons of sweat, sleepless nights and undying dedication for the pursuit of justice and making it available to anyone who needs it.
Being in this field requires strategy, effective means or even useful habits. One cannot just stay on the corner and accept lawyer’s fees without even exerting a single effort to employ means to have an effective attorney-client relationship and eventually win a case for a certain client. So, basically, lawyering is exerting effort and doing something that would greatly depart from one’s own comfort zone. As the common cliché would say, if you are not tired then you are really not a lawyer.
One of the lectures of Atty. Sabrina Balgamwalla discussed about the FIVE HABITS OF CROSS-CULTURAL LAWYERING an article made by Sue Bryant and Jean Koh Peters. The article properly conveyed that lawyering is not just about monetary considerations but instead it is about being an effective lawyer in the practice of law.
The following are the simplified habits from the article discussed by Atty. Balgamwalla.
HABIT 1. DEGREES OF SEPARATION AND CONNECTION
This habit tells us that a line must be drawn in an attorney-client relationship. The lawyer must be able to identify what the similarities and differences are between him and his client. This is a practical way in smoothly getting information from his client. If this habit is observed the lawyer will be able to act an effective communicator because he will be able to know those things that he can say in order to connect with his client and those that he needs to work out in order not to hamper their attorney-client relationship.
HABIT 2. RINGS IN MOTION
This habit speaks of distance between the lawyer and his client. This only means that the lawyer should take time to analyze what differences and similarities could affect their attorney-client relationship. It is like respecting the beliefs of his client but at the same time informing him of what the law could provide about his beliefs.
HABIT 3. PARALLEL UNIVERSE
This habit means that the lawyer should merely sympathize with his client but instead empathize with him so that the lawyer can understand why his client acted that way. This habit focuses more on how to understand the behavior of a certain client.
Oftentimes, lawyers get angry because their client was not able to come in court. Did it come to our mind that maybe there is a compelling reason why he wasn’t able to do so? Say for example, the client on the way to court meet an accident or his house is about to be foreclose by the bank or maybe he was in a very critical condition.
Thus, this habit tells us that lawyers should have this eclectic way of thinking towards their client so that they will be able to understand the behavior of the latter in certain situations.
HABIT 4. RED FLAGS AND REMEDIES
This habit tells us how to be a good communicator. This is where a lawyer should identify some communication problems in an attorney-client relationship so that there will be a good interaction between the lawyer and the client.
Effective communication speaks of having sometime to listen of what the other party has to say and not do all the talking.
So, basically this habit would further tell us the lawyer should identify those things which he is allowed to deal with and get away those which he is prohibited.
HABIT 5. THE CAMEL’S BACK
This last habit symbolizes the wholeness and usefulness of a camel. It is a famous saying that one should not break the camel’s back otherwise it would no longer serve its purpose. Taking it literally, a camel has its purpose particularly its back. Just like in lawyering, the lawyer needs to win the case of his client and he should be able to take care of the client’s interest for his purpose to succeed.
In connection with that, camel’s back connotes the breaking point on why the attorney-client relationship failed in the first place. So, this habit tells us that the lawyer should avoid things that might end the attorney-client relationship in failure. If ever it had already ended, the lawyer must reflect on those things that possibly could be the reason for the fiasco of that relationship.
We should be reminded of what Mark Twains had said “Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one.”
Therefore, a good and effective lawyer should be able to observe the five habits.
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Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the group’s activities.
The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.
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The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.
Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.
The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.
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