Article

Psychological Injury and Law

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 89-94

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Exploring Lawyer–Client Interaction

A Qualitative Study of Positive Lawyer Characteristics
  • Nieke A. ElbersAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Department of Civil Law, VU UniversityFaculty of Psychology and Education, Department of Clinical Psychology, VU UniversityEMGO Institute, VU University Medical CenterAmsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health, VU University Email author 
  • , Kiliaan A. P. C. van WeesAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Department of Civil Law, VU UniversityAmsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health, VU University
  • , Arno J. AkkermansAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Department of Civil Law, VU UniversityAmsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health, VU University
  • , Pim CuijpersAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology and Education, Department of Clinical Psychology, VU UniversityEMGO Institute, VU University Medical CenterAmsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health, VU University
  • , David J. BruinvelsAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Department of Civil Law, VU UniversityAmsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health, VU UniversityCenter of Excellence of the Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB)Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center

Abstract

Personal injury victims involved in compensation processes have a worse recovery than those not involved in compensation processes. One predictor for worse recovery is lawyer engagement. As some people argue that this negative relation between lawyer engagement and recovery may be explained by lawyers’ attitude and communications to clients, it seems important to investigate lawyer–client interaction. Although procedural justice and therapeutic jurisprudence had previously discussed aspects relevant for lawyer–client interaction, the client’s perspective has been rather ignored and only few empirical studies have been conducted. In this qualitative study, 21 traffic accident victims were interviewed about their experiences with their lawyer. Five desirable characteristics for lawyers were identified: communication, empathy, decisiveness, independence, and expertise. Communication and empathy corresponded with aspects already discussed in literature, whereas decisiveness, independence and expertise had been addressed only marginally. Further qualitative and quantitative research is necessary to establish preferable lawyer characteristics and to investigate what would improve the well-being of personal injury victims during the claims settlement process.

Keywords

Personal injury victims Lawyer characteristics Client-centered lawyering Procedural justice Therapeutic jurisprudence