Best Practices for Interviewing Traumatized Clients

(222 Ratings)

Produced on: January 16, 2018

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 60 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Attorneys must often take the worst stories their clients carry, and the most vulnerable situations they have faced, and try to mold them into cognizable claims for relief. One of an attorney’s greatest assets are their memories of their clients, particularly the specific details they use to show credibility. However, the effect of trauma on memory is well documented - often times the most painful moments are hardest to clearly remember. So how can attorneys help their clients to remember the things anyone would want to forget?

In this program, attorney Geoff Trenchard discusses the latest research in neuropsychology and what it can tell us about how people remember. He will review concrete techniques to reduce client stress during intake interviews, as well as how to best support them before, during, and after testimony. Finally, he will look at what attorneys can do to support themselves and their colleagues performing this vital and difficult work.   

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore the definition of trauma, and how it can affect your client’s recollection
  2. Consider the steps an attorney should take before a client interview even begins
  3. Develop an effective structure for your client interview
  4. Discuss other practical considerations to consider when conducting a client interview, including reviewing attorney-client privilege, translating during an interview, and properly framing questions
  5. Review important next steps after conducting a client interview


Geoff Kagan Trenchard

Kagan Trenchard

Before transitioning to a career in the law, Geoff Kagan Trenchard taught creative writing in high needs schools, foster care centers, and jails for over 10 years. Geoff is also a nationally recognized poet and theater artist. His work has been featured on HBO, TEDx, and at the Public Theater. His first play, In Spite of Everything, toured internationally as part of the Hip Hop Theater Festival. His first collection of poems, Murder Stay Murder, is available through Penmanship Books.

He received his Juris Doctorate from Hofstra School of Law. As a student, he represented children in abuse and neglect cases, as well as those seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. He was awarded the Charles H. Revson Law Student Public Interest Fellowship, the Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellowship, and is a recipient of awards from both the Equal Justice Works and the Public Justice Foundation. He was awarded a Postgraduate Fellowship to serve indigent LGBT asylum seekers with Immigration Equality and help train students in the Hofstra Asylum Clinic. He is currently the Secretary of the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration and Nationality Committee and works with the New Sanctuary Coalition’s free legal clinic.


Shellie S.

Outstanding program — I give the speaker and his content my highest recommendation. This should be quasi-required viewing and internalizing for those working with traumatized clients. Geoff gets you behind their eyes and gives you the tools to clear their path as much as possible to tell their story. He ends with the ways in which lawyers can take care of themselves so they can continue to do this hard work. Bravo!

Richard C.

Excellent presentation which applies to innumerable kinds of situations and clients. Thank you.

Cheryl W.

This was the best CLE I've seen yet. It should be mandatory for all attorneys.


Excellent faculty

Jamie H.

Good course.

Uday G.

Speaker was really terrific.

Julian S.

This was one of the best CLE courses I have taken.

Russell P.

good, common sense refreshing material for virtually anyone's practice

Jamilee K.

The presenter was inspiring. He presented the material in a very human and interesting manner. I would love to see other presentations by him.

Lisa D.

This presentation was outstanding. Hands down the best CLE I have every attended.

Sydney T.

terrific presentation

Melissa L.

Fabulous presentation! As both a JD and LMSW I was so incredibly impressed -- and inspired -- when watching this!

Rebecca W.

Thank you.

Karis C.

Solid training on an important topic.

Nancy A.

Great CLE.

Kimberly F.

Very important message.

Alan G.

Worthwhile Program

Elisabeth M.

This was a very informative and useful presentation. I can't wait to incorporate what I've learned into my practice.

Eric Z.

great job.


Very thorough, very well thought out and in depth.

Ingrid Olsen T.

This was superb. I only wish it were an all-day seminar.

Lauren B.

closing remarks were very helpful

Lisa W.

Effective presentation. Thank you.

John L.

Excellent presentation. Helpful to attorneys in a wide spectrum legal practices.

Kenneth C.

Good presentation on a very difficult and important topic.

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