What to do with Difficult Clients in the Legal Field?

Having difficult people among your clients is commonplace for a lawyer, considering the context of the practice. What to do with Difficult clients in the legal field and what attitude is to be adopted with them?

“At one time, law firms had the luxury of refusing a client, on a matter of principle… I would say that is less so today. There is very high pressure to produce hours,” explains Caroline Haney, lawyer for training, recruiting and coach in the legal field.

Over the years, in terms of difficult clients in the legal field, the coach has seen and heard everything: there are those who change strategies like they change their shirts, those with unrealistic expectations, who complain about the fees, who despise the function… “My first advice is to let them ventilate… Ask questions and then listen them out. The client needs to feel understood. For my part, I always finish with a little phrase like, ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ It’s all about the most difficult clients in the legal field.”

On the other hand, the recruiter stresses the importance of taking care of your own mental health, by having ways of eliminating stress, through sports, for example.

“It must also be remembered that in law, one has an obligation of resources, but not results. We cannot promise a client that we will win his case…”  In this sense, the recruiter suggests playing the card of transparency, recording by email all discussions with the client. “If I have understood you correctly, our strategy will be as follows…” No bad surprises, therefore, if the case doesn’t turn out to the client’s advantage.

The question of fees 

Difficult client or not, there is one inevitable reality: “90% of clients think that they are paying too much, and 90% of lawyers think that they are not billing enough for the service rendered,” Caroline Haney sums up.

To avoid misunderstandings, it is beneficial to make the most detailed service offering possible, which explains and justifies the fees. The same applies for a change of strategy: we must, as a lawyer, clearly explain to a client the consequences of a change in strategy. “Sometimes there is some client education to do,” says the recruiter. “People don’t always have a good understanding of the legal process.”


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