Whether or not you think attorneys have a place in your institution’s conduct system, wouldn’t you love to know what those attorneys are actually thinking so you can better prepare for the inevitable?

“The lawyers are coming to a campus near you and they’re coming quickly and they’re working on manipulating the money out of your pocket and into theirs while hopefully helping someone along the way. I deal in manipulation every single day — it’s what I do, it’s what I teach,” said Charles H. Rose III, professor of excellence in trial advocacy and director of the Center for Excellence in Advocacy at the Stetson University College of Law.

“If you’re not aware of the way a lawyer works, then you’re missing an opportunity,” Rose said.

He shared a glimpse into the inner workings of the typical attorney’s mind during his presentation at Stetson University’s National Conference on Law & Higher Education.

Understand attorney’s perspective

“Every time I talk to a decision-maker, whether it’s a university administrator or a judge, I’m thinking about how I can use the law to get you to do what I want you to do. For the uninformed person who approaches a lawyer, it’s not a question of if they’ll be taken advantage of, it’s when they’ll be taken advantage of,” Rose said.

“I’ve come up with the story or the hook or the piece that I need to and I set it all up structurally from the very beginning so that I get you to believe the promise I made to my client,” he said. That “promise” might be to get a student kicked off the baseball team or allowed back onto campus, or to convince you to launch a particular program instead of the one you had planned, he said.

“This is the way lawyers think that have been trained properly. They’re looking at everything through the lens of their client. Lawyers are taught adversarily from the very beginning to win for someone. It’s literally what we teach and what we breed,” Rose said.

“Lawyers are very good at finding the thing that bothers you, the thing that you’re hiding,” he said. And when you hide something from attorneys, they know it’s something that could benefit their client, and that you’re obstructing justice. And lawyers learn to read body language so they can achieve justice on behalf of their clients, he said.

Practice, rehearse, prepare

Before any legal process, Rose practices. He re-creates the environment before going into it so it’s not happening for the first time when he talks to the other lawyer, Rose said.

If you say “I’m not going to tell you that” or “I don’t have to share that with you,” even if your statement is legally accurate, you’ve just clued the attorney in that you don’t want him to have that information. And that will lead the attorney to want, seek and find that information, Rose said.

He said you can increase your chances of a better outcome if instead you respond with something like “We have privacy concerns, which are XYZ. And this is not the appropriate avenue for you to receive that information because of XYZ, but you can properly request that information through such and such.”

Remain calm

Rose said he teaches his students to create, manage and benefit from conflict. That includes knowing how to push people over the edge so they say the thing they don’t want to say that the attorney wants to get them to say, and to force people to be truthful when they don’t want to be, he explained.

“When I get conflict and confrontation, I get information and compare it to the law and get you to do what I want you to do,” to serve the client, Rose said.

“Whenever you talk to a lawyer and you get on your emotional high horse and tell them how things are in your world, the lawyer is provoking a response. Whenever you’re on a roll, stop, take a breath and recalibrate,” Rose said. Remember, that lawyer is listening for that opportunity to push you over the edge, he said.

Develop victim advocacy programs

As you’re developing or modifying your procedures, make sure you have processes in place for the rights of the alleged victims and the accused, Rose said. And always have a vibrant victim’s advocate program, but ensure the program staff aren’t involved in your adjudication process because you can’t advocate for the victim and investigate at the same time, he said.

“The best advocacy brings about reconciliation. Inside the heart of most lawyers resides an idealist who believes the world is a place where justice exists and people can treat each other fairly. In their quiet moments, they’re desperately trying to find a way to make that happen. And if you know that about lawyers you can use that to help your cause,” Rose said.

To contact Rose, who conducts advocacy training, email him at crose@law.stetson.edu.