Deciding whether or not to take on a client is one of the most important decisions you make as an attorney. There are a vast amount of considerations people will tell you to make when deciding to take on a client and if you took the time to adhere to all of them, no decision would be reached. So I’ve come up with a list of 3 considerations you should have at the back of your mind when trying to decide whether or not you are going to represent a client.
Ability to Pay
This consideration may seem like a no-brainer but it wouldn’t be on this list if it was not a frequent problem. You’ll want someone who is straightforward in terms of what they can and cannot afford. This will help in determining whether or not their expectations align with their budget in a realistic fashion. Sometimes clients assume that they do not have to pay the established rate if they do not get the results they desire. Despite how long your relationship with the client will be, you will want to put yourself and your firm in a position that ensures success. And a large part of this assurance is linked to laying out realistic expectations after the client has given you the necessary background information.
Yet another no-brainer, but what many forget to realize is that people are often in a bit of a fluster when it comes to seeking legal representation. Dealing with any kind of situation in the court of law can drain a lot of energy, cause anxiety and be very expensive. Having said that, it is not uncommon for clients to place a very large amount of pressure on attorneys because of all that is tied to the experience. The very application of this pressure could be accompanied with abrasive and sometimes rude interactions. Do not, I repeat, do not subject yourself to that kind of treatment from a client. You as a service provider are doing your best to nurture their trust and represent them to the best of your ability. Respect and trust within your expertise should be packaged in the agreement and should be present from the beginning.
There should be an expectation that a client will omit some information that you may later find important when handling their case.However, outside of this, if you begin to notice inconsistencies in their stories throughout the first few meetings, this is generally a big sign in terms of how the experience representing them will be. So take note of any questionable aspects that seem to be making your work a little harder. Of course, context is very important and naturally some situations elicit more emotions than others. Nonetheless it is very important to sift through that to ensure you are getting a consistent story.
Managing a case can bring a slew of difficulties all on its own, you don’t want a difficult client layered on top of that experience. And always remember that vetting your clients is just as important as potential clients vetting you as a possible attorney.
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