Can your clients help you be more persuasive?

Here’s an article on my short list of must-reads: in Know Your Client: Maximizing Advocacy by Incorporating Client-Centered Principles into Legal Writing Rhetoric Practice,¬†Rutgers-Camden law professor Jason Cohen¬†advocates that lawyers look beyond the typical “write for your audience” mindset and incorporate the client’s values into their legal writing. From the abstract:

Clinicians, however, have developed theories of client-centered lawyering which require that the attorney uncover their client’s values, goals and objectives that may go well beyond the discrete litigation at hand. Client-centeredness encourages the attorney to incorporate this information into his/her advocacy on behalf of their client. This article advocates incorporating select principles from client-centered lawyering into legal writing. The primary purpose for this application is persuasion and advocacy, not necessarily empowering the disenfranchised client.

This is a very interesting concept, and certainly one that cuts against conventional legal writing wisdom. It also requires lawyers to step back from the “I’m the lawyer, I know what I’m doing, leave it to me” approach to client relations. Think how much happier your clients will be knowing not only that their values are being incorporated into the project, but that incorporating those values actually makes for better advocacy.