Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Legal Interviewing and Language Access videos produced by Professors Laila Hlass of Tulane University Law School and Lindsay Harris of UDC David A. Clarke School of Law are a terrific resource for law professors teaching interviewing, especially in the context of interviewing survivors of trauma and using interpreters in interviews.
I have been assigning these videos each semester to my Human Rights at Home Litigation Clinic students at St. Louis University School of Law as part of a unit on interviewing. All of our clients are survivors of trauma and we often use interpreters in our interviews. My students also always interview in teams. My students tell me that they often go back and watch the videos again and again to help them prepare for interviews. They also often specifically mention these videos in their midsemester and final evaluations. Here are a couple of examples from student evaluations:
"The videos emphasized for me the importance of being prepared for the client interview, planning with my clinic partner regarding who will ask which questions and who will take notes, having a clear plan regarding next steps so the client knows what to expect, and being conscientious of cultural differences and implicit biases. I am using all of this information as I prepare for my client interview, especially as my clinic partner and I plan the division of labor for the interview itself. From that class, I now appreciate the impact of effective preparation on client interviews and am aware of how unprofessional we could come across if we’re not well-prepared."
"The class on interviewing was especially helpful in the x matter. We have made many client phone calls and learned the difficulties of using interpreters first hand. The class helped us shape our interview outlines to be less “Yes or No” focused, ask more probing questions, be more prepared as a team, and also add more client specific questions. We had a few clients who jumped at the opportunity to tell their story, which also required a lot of active listening. By having one partner take notes and the other conduct the interview, it allowed the interviewing partner to actively listen to what our client is telling us and easily create follow-up questions based on what we are hearing (making the entire experience more like a conversation)."
"I was never really trained on translating. It had never crossed my mind how the using the third-party pronouns could confuse a client and different ways to better serve both the attorney and the client."
You can access the videos through youtube. If you would like the teaching guides, email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org stating your affiliation and planned purpose for the videos. They have also created a short video explaining how you might use their videos.