Recently in my internship at the Public Defenders office I have had the opportunity to go along on many home visits with juvenile clients as well as jail visits with incarcerated clients. Both types of visits offered interesting experiences and different types of interactions with many different people. Working for an attorney that represents children as well as adults gives the unique chance to see how these interactions must be different while still keeping professionalism throughout. Going to the home visits for juvenile cases was usually quite uplifting as the children were almost always in good spirits especially the very young ones who didn’t really register that they were speaking with their attorney. Their main task at hand is to play and be a normal kid which is good to see when kids get into rough situations. The mood is always very light and friendly in order to gain trust and friendship with the young clients. Teenage juveniles are usually a bit more reserved and give short answers which seems pretty normal for teens who don’t particularly want to answer questions or talk to an authority figure. While this may make it more difficult to glean answers from them it seems to be a reassurance that these kids are just like any other teen if you get rid of the legal issues.
The visits to the jail were a very different type of meeting. Beginning with just getting into the building it was all quite an ordeal. Security is naturally tight even with attorney’s and their interns. So once you’ve gotten through the metal detectors and pat downs it has usually already started to eat into your presumed meeting time. There is also the wait for the client to be brought from their cell or assignment at the moment. This can often be the longest process as the jails are very full and people are spread out. Not to mention the guards have many jobs to be doing and tracking down one inmate for an attorney meeting is not always #1 on their lists. Once the clients do make their way to us these meetings are quite different from home visit meetings for sure. Having talking points and forms prepared and ready to go when they arrive is key to save as much time and get to all the important information while having the client in front of you is key. There isn’t anytime access to clients when they are incarcerated so making the most of these meetings is always a must. For that reason and probably due to the setting, these meetings are serious and to the point. My attorney would always try to foster a trusting relationship at the same time with clients so they didn’t feel alienated or just like another unimportant client. Learning how to interact with different types of people and clients has been a great lesson for me and is helping me see what kind of law I would potentially like to practice in the future.