How Client Counselling Competitions nurture law students
One of the most important traits of a law professional is to counsel people who seek assistance in understanding the legal implications of their actions. Client Counselling Competitions help students in perfecting their interviewing, counselling, and communication skills, essential to make their mark as a lawyer
Client counselling is a coveted skill that every law student should master. What sets apart a great lawyer from a good one is their capability to extract the right information from the client and put across their ideas concisely and confidently. The journey of developing a strong attorney-client rapport is one that takes years of practice. While dealing with a client, there may be multiple challenges like difficulty in establishing trust, not getting the right questions for obtaining the relevant information the client is withholding etc. Client Counselling course, offered as a part of the law curriculum, prepares students to overcome these challenges and make their mark as a legal expert.
Client Counselling Competition (CCC), a popular event organised in law schools promotes greater knowledge and interest among law students in the preventative law and counselling functions of law practice. It also develops interviewing, planning, and analytical skills.
The CCC simulates a law office consultation wherein law students act as attorneys and handle client matters. The participants conduct an initial interview with a person playing the role of the client. They then address the client’s legal as well as non-legal needs. Participants are supposed to explain various aspects of the attorney-client relationship, determine client goals, and consider applicable law and options that may be available to the client.
The objective behind conducting this competition is to let law aspirants test their skills as counsels in terms of handling clients, responding to critical situations, maintaining patience and perseverance, identification as well as approaches to the legal issues faced by the clients. While dealing with the clients, the counsels will be able to self-assess themselves, as to how they need to work on their skills and the judges will evaluate them on their body language, conduct and domain knowledge.
“In Client Counselling sessions, lawyers are expected to understand the issues of the client and provide them with necessary and accessible solutions,” says Ananya Gupta, alumna, UPES, School of Law, winner, RCL, NCC 2019.
Elucidating about her winning strategy, she shares, “It’s about asking questions at the right time, within the right time frame and providing solutions. In case of a competition, having alternate solutions always help, while trying to connect with the client on a basic human level and providing them comfort by making them feel that they are at the right place. At times, our client might not be innocent and as lawyers, we ought to know about it by making them comfortable in the space where they reveal the truth so that the best possible solutions can be suggested. It is all about what the client wants during that session. If you figure that out, the road ahead gets easier.”
Lovepreet Singh, LL.B. student, UPES School of Law and winner, National Client Counselling Competition (NCCC) at MKES College of Law, says, “I counted upon my ability to listen to what the client was saying and gently nudged him to extract the required information. This experience was a real test of my patience and made me realise how important it is for every law student to know about the real-life application of the law.”
The Client Counselling Association (CCA), UPES School of Law, has been organising NCCC since 2014. The annual event is immensely popular within the legal fraternity and witnesses huge participation from all over the country. Keeping up with the tradition, this year, too, the team is gearing up for their first-ever online NCCC in November 2020. The theme of the competition would cover a wide range of laws such as Contract Law, Labour Law, Cyber Laws, Constitutional Law, Arbitration Law, Transfer of Property Law, and Company Act.
Speaking about the significance of counselling skills for students, Sukanya Sharma, Student Convener, CCA, says, “I have been a part of CCC since my first year in 2016, when I participated as a client for the 5th NCCC. The experience ignited me to take up the baton, and here I am leading the team under the able mentorship of our Dean, Dr. Vijay Kumar Singh, and Professors, Dr. Anju Pandey and Mr. Himanshu Dhandaria.”
“Client counselling harbours the art of client advocacy, which happens to be the first step of being a lawyer. One gets to learn life-skills from CCC, which are not just limited to operate within the spectrum of the legal world, but even beyond that,” she concludes.