Chapter 11 Guidance to answering the practical exercises

Client interviews and meetings

Q1. Watch the recording of interviews available at and

to appraise the interviewer’s performance. Make notes on any:

  1. positive points;
  2. points that can be improved.

It is fair to say these recordings are not ageing so well…and yet I imagine they remain useful resources to bring to some life and drive home the hallmarks of a good and poor interview that are included in Chapter 11.

You will have noted your thoughts on the solicitor’s strengths and weaknesses in the following areas:

  • research skills (see Chapters 7 and 8 for how to improve)
  • case/matter analysis and problem-solving skills (see Chapter 9 for how to improve);
  • oral communicaton (both verbal and non-verbal) (see Chapters 10 11 for how to improve).

You can take your reflection further and consider of the strengths and weaknesses you have identified are those which you might also identify in yourself. This article (about behavioural drivers in transactional analysis) might be of interest to explore why you might be doing the things you are doing, or not.

Q2. Remind yourself of the introductory information about Jack in Example 5 of Chapter 9 (maximum 10 minutes). Pair up with someone who can role play Jack. Let them read through Example 5 of Chapter 9 as their preliminary brief. Use Figure 11.1 to interview Jack (maximum 25 minutes), take a contemporaneous note using Figure 11.2, and write up an attendance note using Figure 11.3 (maximum 25 minutes). Ask your client for feedback.

Increasingly lecturers are incorporating these role plays, used in professional postgraduate training, into their undergraduate teaching. They give you an excellent opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them in time for when it actually matters. They can feel very awkward at first (often more so when you are role-playing with a friend) but keep in role and they will teach you well. In particular, go back to your own reflection on your strengths and weaknesses from the exercise in Q1. Now reflect on whether the feedback you received supports the conclusions you drew. Sometimes we are too critical of ourselves; other times, it takes an exercise like this to pull us out of denial and into reality about an area which would benefit from our attention.

Q3. Reverse the roles at 2 above. Reflect on how your experience of role-playing a client will inform your interview practice going forward.

It is illuminating to role-play the client, to inform your own practice when you come to role-play (or eventually practise as) the solicitor. I included this practical exercise because it can, in particular, encourage you to be kinder and more patient with yourself. You are likely to realise, through role playing a client, such things as:

  • the client really does not notice silences that you might, when role-playing a solicitor, consider to be terribly long
  • how nice it feels to be listened to attentively, including to be asked to repeat something, expand on something, or have someone summarise back to you what you have told them…
  • and conversely how it feels to talk to someone who is taking incessant notes. Etc.

The process will also help you to develop the skill of giving feedback to others which is both helpful and sensitive to the recipient’s feelings.

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