Avoid These “Dirty Dozen” Difficult Clients

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Register now for our "Managing Your Firm" webinar Sept 28.

The best way to deal with a difficult client is by not taking their case in the first place.

Although new business is the lifeblood of your practice, it’s important to know what clients to accept. Making the right choice will improve your bottom line and peace of mind. Making the wrong choice could lead to a malpractice claim or ethics complaint. And when times are tough, a problem client will only exacerbate problems.

Running a law office can be a roller-coaster. While some of the ups and downs are outside your control, others can be managed, contained and prepared for. Join us on September 28 at 12 noon CT for the free, one-hour CLE webinar “Managing a Law Office in Uncertain Times: Practical Tips for Building a Solid Foundation for Your Law Practice.” See how a one-page business plan may be all you need. Learn safe and effective “scripts” for initial consultations. Receive a crash course in Law Office Budgeting 101 and Best Practices for client screening. Discover the “Dirty Dozen” list of clients to avoid. The webinar is presented by Gary Poole, a 40-year practitioner and mentor for new lawyers, and Hannah Chapman, a business and financial consultant for small businesses. Attend “Managing a Law Office in Uncertain Times” for a master class on how to maintain law office excellence through good times and bad. Register here.

“Dirty Dozen” High-Risk Clients to Avoid

  1. Clients whose case is outside your practice area (and you can’t reasonably get up to speed).
  2. Clients who have already hired and fired another lawyer – or lawyers – in the same matter.
  3. Clients who don’t tell the truth.
  4. Clients who think their case is a slam dunk, or say they’ve already done all the necessary legal research, or who have wildly unrealistic expectations that can’t be tempered.
  5. Clients looking for a free lawyer or the cheapest representation available.
  6. Clients who want you to become a business partner or cut you in on the action.
  7. Clients who say “I’m not suing for the money; it’s the principle of the thing.”
  8. Clients who come in at the last minute.
  9. Clients who make unreasonable demands or want you to engage in unethical or illegal behavior.
  10. Clients who are angry and simply want to make life miserable for the other side.
  11. Clients who are rude to your staff.
  12. Clients who complain about your fees or don’t pay you.

Bonus Red Flag #1: Clients who are your drinking buddies.

Bonus Red Flag #2: Clients who don’t need a lawyer but just want to run a few questions by you.

The Bottom Line: Avoid malpractice and ethical minefields by screening your clients carefully and sticking to what you know and are good at.

Do you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan? Is your professional liability coverage managed through Alta Pro? If so, you’re automatically a member of the Alta Pro Risk Purchasing Group (RPG), which offers a wealth of benefits for your practice: free, cutting-edge CLE webinars featuring top experts tackling timely topics; the Pro Practice Playbook; the Pro Practice Blog; Reminger’s ProLink risk management assistance; Reminger’s Claim Repair Hotline; discounts on CLIO practice management software; tax savings on health insurance; and access to the Risk Pro, who can help keep your firm safe and successful. Register here and start enjoying your Alta Pro RPG benefits.

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