RIR: Relevant Information Ratio
The amount of unnecessary information vs. relevant information that a client provides about their situation
I deal with clients all the time that give me incorrect information. Family Law is notorious for clients that either don’t read the question fully before providing an answer or they don’t understand the question and therefore, provide the wrong information.
A typical intake question may look like, “What date did you separate from your spouse?”.
A correct response should resemble a date, like “January 1, 2014” or “12/17/2019”.
An incorrect (but common) response might look something like, “He’s been cheating on me for 10 years and he won’t give me any money for the kids”.
I won’t lie; this is frustrating to seasoned paralegals, but we know how (and when) to try to redirect the question or repeat the question so that we (hopefully) get the correct answer.
I’ve run across more than one new paralegal that doesn’t want to ask the question again for fear of looking stupid or just being downright scared of the client.
Getting information from clients is an important part of the paralegal job. Getting the right information is a crucial part of making sure your client’s information is properly represented to the Court, either through the pleadings and motions or in front of the Judge.
How To Be Certain You Get the Correct Client Information for Your Family Law Case
One way to help ensure the correct information is received is by collecting data in writing. When information is given verbally, it’s very easy (and common) for clients to say later “I already told you that” or “I already gave you that information the last time we spoke”.
When you have it in writing and they say “but I already gave you that information”, your assistant is able to respond with “I’m looking at your intake form and the information you gave us was something we can note for your file, but it didn’t provide the date of separation from your spouse.”
Does getting it in writing guarantee that you’ll get accurate information? Nope. But it does help ensure that when a client is convinced that they “gave you that information” that you are able to back your claim that they did not.
Getting things in writing from clients also helps that new paralegal engage less in self-doubt. If they know for certain that they are remembering things accurately (and in this case, have the proof to back it up), it helps promote their sense of confidence in their ability to do the job.