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Answer the Question AskedFor legal services providers, a commonly difficult and troublesome challenge arises when dealing with a client that can't/won't answer a direct question with a direct answer.

Often, very early on in the relationship with the client, the client will be reminded of two key reasons to provide a 'direct' answer:

  1. The saving of money as services are charged for time spent and every minute counts; but unfortunately, clients often tell a 'story' in answer to what was a "yes" or "no" question; and

  2. The training of the client to answer only the question asked; because later, if the matter goes to trial, the client can quickly derail a good case by trying to tell a 'story' instead of brief answers.

It is for 'screening out' potentially troublesome clients that many lawyers and paralegals will ask close ended questions during an initial client interview.  Those potential clients that are unable to answer direct questions with direct answers are often told, "Sorry, I'm unable to help you.  Try calling someone else!"  The potential client then moves on and tries to find another lawyer or paralegal that will listen (again to a long and rambling story).  The potential client may even eventually comes to think that all these lawyers and paralegals misunderstand the case or that it is a losing case - the potential client fails to recognize that it is the potential client 'shooting himself in the foot during initial interviews' that is causing so many lawyers or paralegals to turn the potential client away.

So, when you need legal help, the 'tip' to remember here is to keep in mind that lawyers and/or paralegals prefer working with clients that can answer questions with short and digestible answers rather than with long irrelevant and confusing stories.  Remember, only you lived and breathed the story - and you likely have only one legal matter to keep in mind whereas your legal practitioner is handling dozens of cases.  Legal practitioners are trained and skilled at ensuring the truth and story gets told - you don't need to tell the story in one breath.  Help your lawyer or paralegal to help you!

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