If you ever want to liven up a dull CLE, just ask your audience, “How do you deal with a client who wants you to do something that you know would sink their case?” People who’ve been totally comatose until that moment will lift their noses out of their I-phones and start baying, “I’ve been practicing law for 30 years, and I would NEVER. . .” “I’ve been a public defender all my life, and I would ALWAYS. . . ”
Add to the hypothetical that the client is a juvenile or otherwise mentally underserved and they may start throwing chairs. There’ll be heated speeches on Equality, Autonomy and the Evils of Paternalism, followed by retorts that if clients had good judgment they wouldn’t have ended up as clients. And somebody will inevitably unfurl the banner of CLIENT-CENTERED REPRESENTATION.
Since that seems to be our kommandant’s favorite slogan, we decided to find out what, if anything, it means. According to our go-to sources, Wikipedia, Elevator Captivate Network and Gus the deli guy, Client-Centered Representation (CCR) is a spinoff of Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy (PCT) which, in contrast to chilly Freudian psychotherapy, requires the analyst to provide the client with Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR). Applied to the attorney-client relationship, it means you take on all their problems instead of hiding behind the elitist legalistic facade of Just Winning Their Case (JWTC).
CCR has trickled down to City Hall which, never one to let a bandwagon pass it by, has proposed a bill requiring City-funded providers of legal services to the indignant to hand out “Client Satisfaction Surveys.” The City figures that since it’s forking out 3.5 million clams a year to these outfits, it’s only natural to ask what their customers think. Or, as the Committee Chair attractively put it, “make sure the taxpayer gets the biggest bang for the buck.”
The Committee heard testimony from the Capos of the various legal services outfits, including our dominatrix. Lamping the hearing minutes, we were horrified to see they were created by a sinister cabal called “Worldwide Dictation,” which automatically transcribes “going to,” “want to” and “kind of” as “gonna,” “wanna” and “kinda,” making everbody sound like the L’il Rascals.
The honchos vied like King Lear’s daughters to see who could profess the most adoration for Our Clients. Why, they chorused, we’re thrilled to hear client complaints about us! So important “to elevate client voices and honor their experiences!”
But laying aside their customary jostling for the funding trough, they congealed into a solid mass at the notion of handing out Client Satisfaction Surveys. “We look forward to partnering with the City,” cooed our boss, for whom we feel no UPR. “But first we need a Task Force of Diverse Community-Based Stakeholders and a big fat Research Grant to Study the Issue in more depth.” “Client surveys are transformative!” gushed a rival Cheese. “But our organization pioneered the idea long ago, and we can certainly tell the City how satisfied our clients are without an additional survey.”
The Outer-Boro types were more candid. “We don’t even have funding for paper clips and you want to spend money on a survey?” backtalked one. “Nobody fills out surveys except disgruntled cranks. It’s not our fault the system sucks.”
Resolved: They didn’t wanna and they weren’t gonna.