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Consider what your lawyer needs from you

You submit a request for help from an innocence project. You wait and wait. Perhaps you reach out to them again. Maybe you send them case documents. You include your own legal research. You grow impatient, and send them a scathing letter to emphasize your frustration. They eventually drop your case, explaining politely how they cannot help you. What happened?

How do innocence projects process wrongful conviction claims?

Scan these five articles to get an idea how lawyers may perceive you. Before assuming the worst, consider for a moment their perspective. Do you fit any of these unpleasant client profiles? Let's be honest now.


A. Here Are 5 Types of Legal Clients to Know About

  1. The first time client

  2. Clients who are experienced with lawyers

  3. Clients who think they know it all

  4. The ones not concerned with ethics or due process

  5. The clients who are in denial


This article includes 4 types of clients a lawyer should avoid:

  1. The Angry Client

  2. The Bargain Hunter

  3. The One With Unrealistic Expectations

  4. Dishonest and/or Rude


1. The helicopter client

2. The laissez-faire clients

3. The lying client who denies it all

4. The client who says they only need help with a single area

5. The client who declares that they checked the documents you provided

6. The clients whose expectations for their outcomes are unreasonable

7. The clients who insists you are too friendly with the other party lawyer

8. The best type of client (They have everything in order, are reasonable people and appreciate your efforts on their behalf, win or lose.)


​C. 9 Types of Difficult Legal Clients and How to Handle Them

Difficult Client #1: Vendetta Vince

Motivated by "righteous" anger, he wants everyone to be emotionally invested in his case and may cause problems because you're unable to achieve his goal.

Difficult Client #2: Over-the-Top Theresa

A "type A" personality who gets over-involved, presenting her own amateur legal research and piles of unnecessary case material with the expectation you will use it all.

Difficult Client #3: Dishonest Dan

An inherently nervous character, he fudges or omits information without understanding how this can hinder your ability to achieve his goals.

Difficult Client #4: Loose Cannon Claire

This client will agree to certain terms or accept advice in person, then proceed to behave in opposition to the advice received with the expectation that the outcome will be the same.

Difficult Client #5: Erratic Emily

Usually struggling with some sort of life instability, this client may have a spotty memory, give inconsistent testimony, or change her mind on important matters without warning.

Difficult Client #6: Spineless Steve

This client has an inability to self-manage and expects you to make his decisions for him and provide advice that goes beyond your purview as a legal professional.

Difficult Client #7: No-Show Nick

Typically struggling with a personal crisis, this person cannot be counted on to reliably return calls, handle paperwork, or attend in-person meetings on time.

Difficult Client #8: Two-Faced Tia

Though polite and accommodating whenever attorneys are around, this client is rude and disrespectful to non-legal staff.

Difficult Client #9: M.I.A. Michael

This client is great to work with — until the invoice arrives and he's nowhere to be found.

Read the full article to find tips for how lawyers could handle each of these identified client types.


D. Four Types of Clients That All Lawyers Need to Understand

1. The first-time client

2. The frequent-flier client

3. The know-it-all client

4. The con artist

This site also gives insight to lawyers on when and how to dump bad clients.


E. How to Understand [two] Different Types of Legal Clients

The sophisticated client and the unsophisticated client.


How Value Relating can help innocence lawyers process challenging claims

The Estimated Innocence Form could be integrated into these legal clinics' automated "intake and triage" process. Technology now provides legal clinics more effective ways to process requests for service. An innocence project can discover how to design a user-friendly legal intake process.

Imagine if their online intake form could automatically calculate the viability of your innocence claim. You could instantly know your chances for exoneration, instead of waiting weeks or months for these lawyers and staff to get back to you.

Value Relating invites you to work with us to invite these law projects to invest in a more robust intake process. One that goes further to respect your overlooked needs.

Innocence Agency

Lawyers typically lack the skills of a counselor. They may not be trained to recognize signs or symptoms of trauma, nor empirically correlate these disliked client traits with the lasting impact of trauma suffered largely (if not exclusively) from the damaging results of being wrongly convicted.

Research of exonerees identifies these emotional and psychological symptoms:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief.

  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating.

  • Anger, irritability, mood swings.

  • Anxiety and fear.

  • Guilt, shame, self-blame.

  • Withdrawing from others.

  • Feeling sad or hopeless.

  • Feeling disconnected or numb.

These findings include these physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia or nightmares.

  • Fatigue.

  • Being startled easily.

  • Difficulty concentrating.

  • Racing heartbeat.

  • Edginess and agitation.

  • Aches and pains.

  • Muscle tension.

Value Relating can be better suited to relate to the PTSD that claimants present. As a trained counselor, Steph Turner can provide the trauma-informed care that lawyers typically lack. As a wrongful conviction survivor, Steph can relate to much of what the innocent defendant endures. Steph can walk you through ways to personally heal from the trauma by integrating a component of speaking truth to power. Most counselors help you to adjust to power structures while need-response equips you to challenge power structures in ways that incentivize them to listen to those impacted.

For the factually innocent, full exoneration is never an unrealistic expectation. However, the specifics of a case in the hands of a particular legal clinic may present unrealistic expectations. Need-response offers to continue to process outside of the typical narrow legal system approach.


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Steph is a self-described transspirit, which is a kind of sacred misfit. By transcending conventional limits—gender norms, religious identities, political polarities, and more—Steph experiences a unique connection in life. And suspects others do as well. This blog shares that spirituality, and affirms others of a similar state of being.

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