Working with Clients

AuthorWilliam J. Edwards and Risa Grand
I often tell people that I may not be the brightest star in the legal constel-
lation, but that what makes a good attorney is that I am nice to my clients.
The importance of this statement is that for me, the foundation of successful
representation and advocacy is the attorney-client relationship. And when
working with people with mental disabilities, this requires not only patience
but also an understanding of how their unique disability impacts how they
interact with counsel.
This chapter by William J. Edwards and Dr. Risa Grand gives practical
advice for establishing rapport with the client, identifying indicators of mental
disability, and gathering the records most needed to document your client’s
mental disability and advocate for the appropriate support serves in order to
prevent him or her from reoffending.
• • •
To provide effective assistance of counsel, it is essential that a defense
attorney understand, identify, and seek an expert evaluation for a client
who may have a mental disability. Although lawyers are not doctors and
therefore may not be able to specifically diagnose a mental condition,
counsel should know when to make appropriate referrals to psychiatrists
and psychologists, court liaisons, social workers, and other mental health
professionals to assist in the evaluation of a client for competency, mit-
igation, and for the development of a mental defense, including a plea
of not guilty by reason of insanity. This chapter will highlight different
Working with Clients
William J. Edwards and Risa Grand

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