Now, before I dive into what I do at BC LAB, I want to tell you about the people that make BC LAB what it is… a great place to work.
Most of the supervising attorneys and social worker, Lynn Barenberg, have worked here for twenty years or more. They have seen hundreds of students come in and out of LAB doors, and yet, they make me feel as if I’m the first. During my first week, I wasn’t just thrown into the grinder and told to put my head down and “get it done.” Instead, the staff allowed for introductions and instructionals.
At our first meeting, we were told to refer to all supervisors by their first names. A nuance, but a strange thing to get used after addressing each as professor through the year! We were also served ice cream sundaes, but unlike what might occur at many other offices, these sweets were not catered. Instead, the supervising attorney bought the necessary ingredients and hand cut an entire bowl of strawberries for our enjoyment. She did not ask an administrative assistant to do it, she did not ask us to do it; she took the time and sliced those strawberries herself. Such a small act, but it let each and every one one of us know that we are respected.
Not only do the attorneys treat the students with respect, they treat the clients with respect as well. They understand that, in the end, they are working for the client and not vice versa. To people that have not worked in the legal industry this may sound like a no-brainer, but legal professionals may forget this detail more often than they care to admit. And understandably so… attorneys are asked to delve into a case, to know the ins and outs from every angle. And you, as the client, you want your attorney to treat your case as if it were his or her own, right? To become so involved as to make it personal? I’ve heard that going to trial is like a mini “vacation” from the world. Attorneys become so focused on the case that everything else falls away, fading into the background. When we make something that personal, when we spend so much time on a project, we naturally take ownership. And when it becomes ours, it is easy to forget who is supposed to be calling the shots (hint: the client!).
How do I know that the supervisors treat clients with respect after such a short time? It’s the little things. Right off the bat, we were taught to call the client for permission if we need to relay sensitive information in advocating to a third party. After a client meeting, we are taught to transcribe everything we’ve gathered from that meeting and save it on the server. This can be a time consuming process, but it saves the client from being asked sensitive questions again and again, as the case builds momentum. These practices respect the client’s right to privacy and acknowledge that, while their claim may feel like an invasive procedure, we will do everything in our power to minimize the unpleasantness of the process.
Are you now wondering, what are these unpleasant things? I thought that the client just tells the attorney the facts and then the attorney takes care of it? Well, not quite.
And, please check out my youtube video, telling you a bit about what’s ahead.