Use a client screening checklist to evaluate a potential client
In order to avoid working with a high risk or difficult client, one that might accuse you of malpractice, it’s important to first, know what to watch out for, and second, not agree to work with such a client. This is particularly important in a tough economy to maintain a healthy law practice.
No matter how bad the economy is, you are better off going to the beach than working with a client who doesn’t pay, drives you crazy, or might sue you.
Your Pre-engagement screening list should include determination of the following:
- Is this potential client changing lawyers? If they are, why are they? How did they handle the termination of the engagement with the last lawyer? What is the status of their account? How do they describe the lawyer they are no longer working with?
- How many disputes has this potential client been involved in?
- Have they had disputes with previous lawyers?
- What are their expectations from your representation and can you satisfy them? Are they being unrealistic and or unreasonable? Is the potential client willing to listen and follow your advice? Are you able to reduce their expectations to reasonable bounds?
- Do they want to run the matter based on what they think the law is or should be, or what their friends or relatives think should happen?
- Find out how important this matter really is and whether they are really willing to spend the kind of money it will take for the representation they say they want. What is the client’s ability to pay?
- Requesting an advance fee deposit and the client’s willingness to pay it gives you good information about the client.
- What is your gut telling you?
What do you what to change about your screening process?
If you would like coaching on this area of your law practice, please consider contacting me to see how I can assist you.