It was Friday morning and I was waiting for a client to come fill out her Power of Attorney (POA) for Health Care. I was really excited for this because I had not had the opportunity to do an initial client interview yet, and this would be my first time assisting a client with completing a POA. I was also grateful I was able to have the experience of doing one, since POA Day was Wednesday, and I am scheduled Fridays at the clinic.
Going into the situation I was very nervous. I had never done a POA before and I reviewed the POA documents, but actually doing interviews is always different than preparing for them. I definitely have seen that play out a lot this semester. You can prepare all you want for client interactions, but often they go nothing like you planned. Going into this experience I expected the client to have a lot of questions. This document is for long- term planning, and the population we work with at the Health Advocacy Clinic often does not have a lot of long-term plans or knowledge about what POAs entail. I was thinking the POA meetings and paperwork would take more time than they actually did. Because if the client potentially did not know or understand the forms, filling out and explaining them would take some time. I also believed some of the POA would be left incomplete, due to clients not having contact information for their agents. I also went into the situation feeling unsure of how the client would react to me. We would have little opportunity to build rapport, and I would be delving into very personal information with them. It definitely left me with feeling awkward and unsure before the interview.
My client came for the POA appointment and things went smoothly. The client had all of her wishes pretty thought out, and she had all the contact information necessary for the appointment. This really surprised me and made the interview go very quickly and efficiently. I was also relieved and happy to see the interview go so well. When the final completed copy was given to her, I was very excited. Overall the experience went well.
I think the experience was good for me because my client was very pleasant and friendly. She communicated well and knew exactly what she wanted out of the POA and who she wanted as her agent. I think we are just taught to prepare for the worst, so I had prepared many situations in my mind prior to the appointment. I ended up being pleasantly surprised that it went smoothly.
I think it is very important to be prepared. And this is a skill I will continue to use and develop in practice. Since I was over-thinking the situation, it ended up being better than I had imagined. However, I do think expecting the unexpected or having no set expectations is more realistic. I think planning ahead to be prepared and equip yourself with resources to help our clients is all we can do. There will always be difficult meetings we cannot always be prepared for, or possibly easier meetings because we were prepared. It’s so dependent on our client base. And working with so many different types of people is something I have really enjoyed during my clinic experience so far. It makes us all constantly adaptable but appreciative of those meetings that go smoothly. I especially found this POA meeting insightful because I learned how to complete one. I was also able to help a client accomplish her goals of having a POA done for her family’s sake and making her medical wishes known to them. Completing POAs is a great feeling because you feel like you are contributing to the client’s life directly by making it better long term, and that is exactly why I want to be a lawyer.