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Frustrated AttorneyHave you ever had a  bad client? One that made your life absolutely miserable?

You know, the type… the one who makes you cringe when listening to a voicemail or grit your teeth when you’re reading an email. Secretly you wish the client was out of your life forever.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve been in private practice for a while, I’m guessing you’ve had your fair share of “clients from hell.”

But let’s be honest, who’s fault was it that this person became a client?

Yours.

That was a reality I had to face myself when my trusted advisor asked me that same question. He said, “It’s your fault that you let someone become a client.”

GULP!

I didn’t want to hear that. But he was right. Any client I added to my roster is one that I allowed to be there. Good and bad.

And for the bad, “red flags” were there the entire time. I just didn’t know what to look for.

In short, it wasn’t worth taking on these clients because they sucked the life out of me and robbed me of the time I could have spent helping other clients -- the ones I enjoy working with.

So, if you’re fed up with clients who make your life miserable, watch out for these 6 warning signs:

Misses or is late for the first appointment

This person doesn’t value or respect your time, and he or she also don’t manage time well. This could mean you’ll be chasing down answers because the client won’t respond to your phone calls or emails in a timely manner. Since you won’t have information you need upon request, the entire process will be delayed. Ultimately, this type of client won’t give you the opportunity to adequately do a good job.

Wants FREE legal advice upfront

This person wants anonymous, free legal advice for a complex situation. And while you may be tempted to spend a lot of time with this client, giving away  free legal advice, if you allow him or her to sign the dotted line, this client will likely have same expectations throughout the duration of your relationship. You may find that this type of client won’t pay on time either.

Can’t keep their emotions in check

This “client from hell” has a vendetta against the other person and starts out ranting and raving on the phone. Essentially, this person is out for blood, not justice. Chances are, if you accept these types clients and things don’t go well… it’s then your blood they’ll be after next.

Interrogates you about your legal background

This person wants to size you up by asking all sorts of questions about your legal background. These potential clients may even feel like they know the law better than you, so they will never see you as their trusted advisor.

Shops and drops -- you’re not the first attorney they’ve had

You’re not the first attorney that’s represented them for this case. The client is upset with the last lawyer and is now shopping attorneys. He or she may have even  reported the last lawyer to the Bar.

Holds unreasonable expectations

Typical signs of this type of client will:

  • Make repeated phone calls
  • Question everything you’ve done or haven’t done, and
  • Refuse to give you adequate time to do the task.

This person will keep you on the phone, asking the same questions over and over. And often, these types will expect miracles in an impossible situation. At the end of the day, you’ll never  make these types of clients happy, and they’ll tell all of their friends how terrible you are.

Has all the defenses lined up at first meeting

This client has all the answers. Clients like this have already established their defense (from watching court TV), and they want you to take orders. Do yourself a favor... show them the door.

The Reality

Sometimes we take on bad clients because we feel desperate and need the business. But bad clients drain the life out of you, preventing you from marketing yourself and  finding the type of clients who allow you to achieve your goals.

Fortunately, when you have a marketing system in place generating a steady flow of clients, you can afford to be picky… because you don’t need their business.

Do you have a steady flow of potential clients? Would you like to talk about how to attract the right type of client? 

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