Holistic, Client-Centered Representation
At the Law Office of Mark E. Stephens, I employ a different representation model: Holistic, Client-Centered Representation.
At the Law Office of Mark E. Stephens, I believe that an individual’s behavior – including criminal behavior – can be driven by the personal, psychological and social dynamics existing in one’s life. Those underlying dynamics can coalesce and result in a person engaging in criminal activity. While many of my clients are innocent of the charges brought against them, a representation model that ignores the potentially debilitating impact of those underlying dynamics will not result in reaching my stated goal; helping the client get out of the criminal justice system and forging a plan that allows him or her to live a fuller, more meaningful, productive and successful life.
I believe that addressing only the criminal behavior of my clients, and not those underlying personal, psychological, and social dynamics that drive behavior, is short-sighted. “Holistic representation” includes, at a minimum, a lawyer partnering with a social service provider addressing both the legal issues confronting the client, but also addressing those other dynamics that are in the way of the client achieving his or her goals. Collaboratively, the client’s legal problems as well as personal and environmental issues are addressed, a plan of action is developed, and together, we begin the process of acting on that plan of action.
At the Law Offices of Mark E. Stephens, my representation model includes an interdisciplinary approach to the client and his/her circumstances. A social worker partners with me to provide seamless access to needed services, assisting me and my client in reaching our goals. A social work professional can address a full range of client needs including employment, vocational training, housing, driver’s license issues, mental health, addiction, alternative sentencing, and on and on. Simply put, social workers help empower clients.
“Client-centered” representation means that I will give the client the power, ability, and the right to decide what direction he wants his case to take, after being given the information and council he needs. I promise to attempt to understand the client’s situation from the client’s point of view, and respect that client’s right to choose the ultimate course in his case.
Not all lawyers practice client-centered representation. Many lawyers believe they alone know what is best for their clients. They tell their clients how they should resolve their cases, or they strongly – often in a patronizing or condescending manner – dictate the “right” choice. A client-centered lawyer doesn’t treat his client in this manner. Rather than insisting that the client follow the lawyer’s advice, a client-centered lawyer spends time and energy rethinking their advice – within the context of the client’s situation – and if still convinced they are offering their clients the best advice, develop strategies for helping clients understand and accept the lawyers’ perspective, and why the client should act on the advice of counsel. Ultimately, a client-centered law office lets the client decide how his or her case will be resolved, and that decision is met with respect, courtesy, cooperation, and support from the lawyer.
Client-centered representation requires trust and respect between the lawyer and the client. For client-centered representation to work effectively, the lawyer must respect the client and the client must trust his lawyer. Building trust takes time and commitment.
The Law Office of Mark E. Stephens is a holistic, client-centered office. I promise to not only respect my clients’ stated goals of representation, I will provide representation that takes into account the whole client and his or her needs beyond mere legal representation. I listen to my clients, and examine their special needs as they relate not only to the best possible outcome for their cases, but beyond that, the best possible means of improving their lives, and their place in our community.