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Angry to deceitful, obsessive to abusive: difficult clients can be any of these things. And more.
Sometimes they don’t know that they’re being objectionable, sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t care much either way.
Should we be surprised? After all, nobody particularly visits a lawyer to be entertained. A law firm is not a comedy club. Clients typically visit their legal advisors to deal with life’s less palatable issues: drafting a will (death); getting a divorce (demise of a relationship); or selling a business (end of a lifetime’s work), to name a few.
There, that’s cheered you up.
However, disagreeable clients mean that a lawyer is less likely to get paid and more likely to see a negligence claim. And let’s not forget the potential for complaints to the SRA.
So here are our top five tips on dealing with challenging clients.
This might sound painfully obvious, but try to avoid working for a difficult client in the first place. Nowadays, the need of hitting fees targets means that this isn’t always an easy thing to do.
Don’t be afraid of trusting your gut instinct.
If a potential client reveals:
then you should think carefully before being instructed by them. Get the second opinion of a colleague. Do a Google search to see if – adopts EastEnders-style accent – they have “any previous”.
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