Victim advocates help build the strongest plaintiff while you focus on building the strongest case. Having a victim advocate as part of your legal team that is trauma-informed, has built relationships with victim service providers, and can provide support every step of the way will provide your clients with an experience that leaves them feeling supported and view the process in a more positive regard.
The victims and their families have most likely never filed a lawsuit of this nature before and have probably never been to court before except for a day or two of jury duty. The entire civil justice system is foreign to them, including the language. They will listen when a lawyer explains how the process works but they won’t fully understand. Lawyers tend to speak in legalese even when they are trying their best to speak plain English.
They will be intimidated by you and the whole process. The fear of sounding stupid will keep them from giving you all the information you need or answering all your questions fully. They will be scared to death of you. They will assume you are judging them and maybe questioning their behavior. A victim advocate can help civil attorneys read between the lines and understand what is not being said.
Your clients are in crisis mode and desperately seeking justice and nothing will happen fast enough for them. Counter-productively, they will have many days where they won’t want to do anything at all. They will need help from the start because they will not understand the importance of seeking therapy, getting police reports, or answering interrogatories.
Chances are your client has never been deposed and won’t fully understand what will happen and the significance of depositions. Even when you explain it, they won’t fully comprehend because you won’t be speaking their language. A victim advocate can help prepare your client for depositions. Having a victim advocate present during depositions can add another layer to your strategy.
A victim advocate will be able to provide the support necessary to help your client persevere, feel grounded, and able to withstand the rigors of civil litigation. There will be times when they want to talk about it over and over and times they won’t want to talk about it at all. They will want to quit but they will expect you to win their case even without their help. They need someone who can listen without looking at the clock.
In addition to helping your clients, a victim advocate will add value to your civil litigation team. A victim advocate can look at the case from a different perspective and provide feedback to civil attorneys that is trauma-informed and may not have been previously considered. There are many civil attorneys to chose from but if a potential client knows that you have a person who is solely focused on their needs they may be more inclined to choose your firm.