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Best Practices for Interviewing Traumatized Clients (Update)

(174 reviews)

Produced on January 22, 2019

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Course Information

Time 67 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

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 update to his 2018 program, attorney Geoff Trenchard discusses the latest research in neuropsychology and what it can tell us about how people remember. He will provide practical strategies for conducting client intake interviews with clients who have faced trauma. He will review concrete techniques to reduce client stress during intake interviews, as well as how to best support clients 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

Credit Information

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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.


Gianna D.

This instructor was very engaging and did a great job delivering the content.

Andres V.

One of the best trainings! Trauma informed interviews are so insightful and necessary.

Deborah P.

I have experience in this area and have taught it myself, and I still found this course helpful, as a refresher and as a model for how to teach some of this material, and also as a source of new resources and practical tips. Highly recommend.

Jane S.

This was exceptionally good and provides perhaps the most pragmatic, helpful advice of any CLE I've ever attended. I get that sometimes people just want a run down of statutes and case law, but I know how to use Westlaw. What is useful are operationalizable strategies I can put into practice. This was excellent.

Stephen T.

This was one of the best CLEs I have taken

Matthew B.

This is a superior presenter and presentation.

Linda R.

Exceptional teacher and person. One of the most knowledgeable and dignified speakers on Lawline.

Laura L.

Brilliant. Should be required for every attorney in the US.

Stacey A W.

Exemplary! I usually don't do comments, believing my ratings speak for themselves. but this was by far the best Lawline presentation I've heard/seen.

Mona D.

Geoff did a wonderful job. His passion is contagious.

R. Christopher R.

An amazing seminar speaking to lawyers as people and not merely legal machines.

Leigh D.

This subject in particular is psramount for all attorneys due to the highly charged atmospheres we are likely to encounter. Appreciated the info on the brain, practical suggestions and gravity deservedly attributed to this area. An attorney has the duty to protect the client, and in part this means doing no further harm when we interview

Tashama W.

This CLE was tremendous. Many thanks to the presenter, who was engaging and highly effective.

Catherine M.

Best CLE I've taken - this should be required in law school for lawyers to take a step back and understand how to interact with clients - and not just those who have experienced trauma. Geoff was knowledgeable and shared information that was on point and useful for any practice. Great CLE!

Valerie C.

The presenter was very refreshing and clearly passionate about the topic on many levels.

Andrea K.

This was one of my favorite CLE's ever in terms of offering real practical advice on how best to serve the clients I work with. Thanks.

Wanda K.

Excellent speaker!

Tracy D.

Fantastic course. Thank you.

Steven K.

superb presenter

Erin E.

Exceptional speaker, very enjoyable course.

Michael H.


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