SQE2 Client Interview: Dos and Don'ts

Published
June 10, 2024
Reading Time
6 Mins

Introduction

One of the five practical legal skills assessments in the Solicitors Qualifying Examination 2 (SQE2) is the client interview. This assessment tests your ability to interact effectively with clients, gather pertinent information, provide legal advice, and communicate complex legal principles in an accessible way. This article will walk you through the dos and don'ts for successful client interviews.

Understanding the Client Interview

In a client interview, your main goals are to understand your client's situation and needs, provide initial advice, and outline the next steps. This requires a combination of technical legal knowledge, effective communication skills, and empathy.

Dos and Don'ts for the SQE2 Client Interview

The following tips can guide your approach to the client interview station:

Do:

  1. Prepare Ahead: Before the interview, familiarise yourself with the case file and anticipate possible issues or questions. Preparation is key to providing accurate and effective advice.
  2. Listen Actively: Active listening involves fully focusing on the client, understanding their statements, and responding thoughtfully. It is crucial for building rapport and gathering key information.
  3. Express Empathy: Acknowledge the client's feelings and concerns. Empathy can build trust and make the client more comfortable sharing information.
  4. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Open-ended questions can encourage the client to provide more detailed information and clarify their needs or concerns.
  5. Clarify and Confirm Understanding: Regularly summarise the information gathered and confirm with the client to ensure accurate understanding.

Don't:

  1. Rush the Client: Give the client ample time to express their thoughts and concerns. Rushing can lead to missed information and can make the client feel undervalued.
  2. Use Complex Legal Jargon: While you may be comfortable with legal terminology, your client likely is not. Communicate in plain language to ensure your client understands the advice given.
  3. Interrupt the Client: Interruptions can disrupt the flow of information and may come across as disrespectful. Listen patiently and respond at appropriate times.
  4. Ignore Confidentiality: Always remind the client of the confidential nature of your conversation. Respect for confidentiality is a cornerstone of legal practice.
  5. Make Promises You Cannot Keep: While it's natural to want to reassure your client, avoid making guarantees about the outcome of their case. It's important to manage their expectations realistically.

Conclusion

Mastering the client interview is not only crucial for your SQE2 success but also for your career as a solicitor. By adhering to these dos and don’ts, you can improve your client interviewing skills and prepare yourself to engage effectively with clients in your future legal practice.

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