As lawyers, we encounter a variety of clients, and lawyers must conduct themselves professionally toward their clients. Understanding the fundamentals of the typical clientele can be beneficial. You will come across demanding clients no matter what area of law you practice. Working with different types of clients is a necessary skill. Every client is unique, but lawyers can avoid headaches by recognizing patterns in client types.
Client types that every lawyer should be able to recognize:
The First-Time Client
These clients may have no prior experience with lawyers, and they may be afraid. You must be patient with such clients and clearly explain the legal procedure and all related matters. These clients may have doubts and questions, which may provide lawyers with another angle to consider that may be beneficial to the case.
Clients who are experienced with lawyers
This client has been involved in several legal situations. They are the polar opposite of The First-Time Client in that they have previously worked with multiple attorneys. They understand the intricacies of their case, and they may even be familiar with legal terminology and procedures that are not widely known.
This may make them feel compelled to advise you. To effectively manage them, you must establish your position early and consistently. You are their attorney, not them. They may be aware of some aspects of their situation, but you are ultimately responsible for the outcome, and they will need to know how to best trust your legal expertise.
Clients who think they know it all
Clients of this type may question your decisions when dealing with their case or your legal strategy. They can even persuade you to do things their way, making it appear like they know everything, which can be difficult for the lawyer. However, as a lawyer, you can effectively inform them that you can handle the case better and guide them through the legal procedures more efficiently and effectively.
The Ones Who Are Not Concerned With Ethics Or Due Process
Such clients are always willing to go to any length to achieve the desired outcome and are unconcerned about the route taken to get there. They are only concerned with the result matching their expectations. These clients cannot be retained. They are challenging to manage because they prefer to go out of their way, even illegally, to achieve results. A lawyer must ensure that the path to resolving the case is legal and correct.
The Clients Who Are In Denial
These people are in denial and are terrified of hiring an attorney. They realize they need legal help, but they’d rather bury their heads in the sand. Denial is a natural coping mechanism. It can take some time for people to accept reality. Allow the client time and space to adjust.
4 Types of clients a lawyer should avoid
The Angry Client
There have been numerous instances in which enraged clients physically assaulted attorneys because the attorneys did not initially take the anger problem seriously. Even if the client is not physically violent, this type of client can make the life of an attorney miserable. These types of clients may fall under the category of revenge seekers, so be wary of these clients who are essentially seeking vengeance.
The Bargain Hunter
There are kinds of clients who are more interested in negotiating than how their case is going. We all know that lawyers are expensive, and it’s good business to keep client costs down. But a client who spends more time complaining about fees than talking about legal issues is one that lawyers should try to avoid unless they want to fight over unpaid bills.
The One With Unrealistic Expectations
These clients have unrealistic ideas about how much their case will be worth or how it will turn out. It’s an attorney’s job to explain what the law can and can’t do. And if they still have too high of hopes, you should start to avoid working with them. Some clients have unrealistic expectations about service, time, costs, and results. Before taking on a new case, a lawyer should ensure that the client understands what’s going on.
Dishonest and/or Rude
If you ask a customer for important information and they refuse to give it to you, you could get in trouble with the other side. Let’s say a client is behind on payments. He wants you to talk to his creditors and work out a deal to pay off his debts. But to do this, you need to know how much he owes, how much interest he is paying, what his credit card information is, etc. If the client won’t give you this information, you can’t start the process of settling credit card debt. In this case, it’s best not to work with this kind of client.
If a client lies to their lawyer or asks their lawyer to lie on their behalf, it’s best to stay away. On the other hand, people who are rude to their lawyers usually don’t respect them. People like this shouldn’t have to deal with lawyers.
The Bottom Line
In my experience, whether you are offering credit card debt settlement services or settling divorce cases, you will encounter every type of client mentioned above more than once in your career. Regardless of the kind of difficult clients you meet, you must have legal malpractice insurance to protect yourself against claims and accusations from dissatisfied clients.
Even though complaints from difficult customers are frequently unfounded, the reality is that everyone makes mistakes. In the event of legitimate errors and omissions, malpractice insurance will protect you, so you are protected even if a client’s complaint is valid. With the assurance that you are protected, you can save your energy for dealing with demanding clients and winning challenging cases.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.