In the November issue of the American Bar Association Journal (subscription only), there is a short article by Steven Keeva, excerpting his book, Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life. Keeva presents a list of questions for attorneys that will resonate with ombuds:
At the Initial Meeting
- Why has the client come? [...]
- What does he expect of me?
- What role does he want me to take? [...]
- Am I listening as if he is the only other person on earth at the moment?
- Have I turned off the phone or made arrangements for someone else to answer? [...]
- Are my words consistent with my values?
- Have I made clear what I see as both his and my own role(s) in this relationship?
- Have I made clear where my loyalties lie -- to him, yes, but perhaps also to minimizing conflict, to the other side or to the community?
- Have I been clear about the range of options, both legal and nonlegal [ed.: or formal and informal], that may be available? [...]
After the Initial Interview
- Have I been clear so far about what I see as the merits and deficiencies in the case the client thinks he has?
- Does the client seem open to striving for a win/win solution?
- What might such a solution look like in this case? (Even better, ask the client this?)
- Is he willing to take any responsibility for the problem? If he is willing to forgo the role of the victim, what opportunities does that open up?
- Can he admit that there were things he coud have done that might have prevented the current problem? If so, can he take an active role in resolving it?
- Does the client need permission to let go of his anger, and would he accept that permission from me?
- How attached is the client to winning? Would anything short of it be interpreted as success? [...]
- Is the client deluding himself about any aspect of this case?
- What might be the best way to start a dialogue?
- What ways of looking at this case might locate deeper meanings and broader implications? For example, are there family implications that may at first not be apparent? Community Issues? Spiritual issues? How might these implications matter?
- Have I made it clear enough that I consider this relationship: Important to me? Worthy of my time? [...] A collaboration in which we each have much to contribute?