Rethinking the lawyer-client interview: Taking a relational approach

Document Type

Journal Article




School of Arts and Humanities


Originally published as: Howieson, J., & Rogers, S. L. (2019). Rethinking the lawyer-client interview: Taking a relational approach. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 26(4), 659-668. Original publication available here


The client interview is an integral part of a lawyer’s work. Despite this, there is little research focused on the client interview and how it might influence the economy of the legal strategies and processes that follow. This study examined students’ perceptions of perspective-taking, trust, self-disclosure and understanding in a client interview where the students took the roles of either a lawyer or client in a dispute resolution context. The results revealed that the client’s perception of their lawyer’s perspective-taking increased their trust in the lawyer, which increased their self-disclosure, which subsequently helped the clients to gain a better understanding of their situation. The results illustrate the importance of the key relational aspects during consultation and accords with similar findings in the procedural justice and mentalising literature. The findings could have powerful implications for rethinking the purpose and aims of the lawyer-client interview and helping lawyers to reshape the outcomes.