Keep Bad Clients Out of Your Practice: Trust Your Gut

In my last few posts/videos, I’ve been talking about firing bad clients. But how do you keep those bad clients out of your practice in the first place?

Pay attention to your gut.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking to a lawyer who is trying to get out of a bad client situation and when we start talking about that client, they say something like, “I had a feeling from the very first meeting that this client would be a problem,” or, “Now that I think about it, this client was very focused on my fees at the first meeting, and negotiated a lower fee,” or “I had a feeling all along that the client was hiding something from me.”

Often, lawyers take these clients on even though their gut tells them not to because they feel sorry for the client, or they’re worried about where their next client will come from, or because they’ve been referred by someone they know or a good referral source, but they end up regretting it later. Every lawyer I know has at least one of these stories. The problem comes when you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.

If your gut is telling you that something is not right, pay attention. You don’t need to take on every client that walks into your practice. You can be polite and helpful, refer them to someone else, or just tell them you are not in a position to take on their case. You don’t owe them an explanation.

Don’t second-guess your intuition, even if your concern is money.

The problems caused by bad clients tend to spread throughout your practice – they take your time and energy away from good clients. They use up more than their share of your resources. They often pay a reduced fee, or don’t pay at all. They are the clients who will either be unhappy with everything you do, and leave a bad review, scaring away good potential clients, or – possibly even worse – they will refer people just like them, who want a discount, are needy, etc. – to your practice.

In my next video, we’ll talk about red flags and “bad client warning signs” that you can watch for in your next meeting with a potential client.

If you’d like to learn more about attracting and keeping the best clients in your law practice, download my Ideal Client workbook, or check out the other videos and posts about client service:

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