What They Didn’t Teach You in Law School #11: When to Fire Your Client

It may seem counter-intuitive to fire a client when most attorneys are struggling to find new clients. While having usually brings in more money, a problem client can actually lower your law firm’s bottom line and take a toll on your quality of life and your ability to do work. After cutting problem clients loose, you will have more time and less stress so that you can focus on things that really matter: strengthening your current professional relationships, developing new legal marketing strategies to attract quality clients, networking with other attorneys and spending more time doing the things that you enjoy.

Here are a few characteristics of the type of client you should consider firing:

  • Consistently ignores or refutes your legal advice
  • Misses due dates for bills or fails to pay at all
  • Constantly complains about your performance or other aspects of your professional relationship with the client
  • Frequently ignores your phone calls, emails or other communications
  • Fails to show up for scheduled appointments
  • Interrupts your work with frequent phone calls or unexpected office visits

In addition to removing clients who show the characteristics above, you should not represent clients if representation of that client would put you in violation of the professional rules of misconduct or if representation would put you at risk for a malpractice claim, bar complaint or disqualification motion.

By removing problem clients, you will cut potential losses in your law firm and regain your sanity. If you choose to fire a client, you should try to do it in a way that delicately terminates the attorney-client relationship, and you must observe ethics and court rules. Check back next week for a few tips on how to properly terminate legal services with a problem client.