Difficult clients are unavoidable in every profession, but for a lawyer it may be especially unwelcoming since it may involve you in conflict of interest or ethic problems. At times, you may have the choice to simply refuse to work for them, but some lawyers may find it difficult to turn away business. Thankfully, there are certain steps that can be taken to limit or prevent discrepancies and possible malpractice claims between you and your client. Instead of retreating
or getting defensive, you can keep your client relationship intact by implementing the following guidelines:
Be Honest from the Start
If you expect any problems with a case full of complex legal issues, let the client know about your processes or boundaries beforehand. Communicate the value of your services but be clear about your role in a representation and both yours and your client’s responsibilities. Remember that your role is to advice the consequences of the different courses of action, and your client ultimately decides which course of action to follow. Also, if you manage expectations from the outset, including the cost, time, services, and results, you can avoid late dissatisfactions.
thoroughly explain how the other options can advance or decrease the client’s goals. Although the final selection is still their choice, it’s your responsibility to counsel with them to offer the best legal advice.
Stay Calm & Patient
The way you deliver your services will be the most important element above everything else. This is where the quality of your work will show. A difficult client may be tiring to work with if they’re not calm and patient themselves, but where possible, be the bigger person and try to be sympathetic about the emotional investments or high stakes that they may be experiencing. Being patient and understanding will most likely alleviate their worries and in turn, their mood towards you will improve. During disputes, acknowledge your client’s feelings as much as you can but stay focused on their desired outcome so you can work on options towards a proper resolution. Having a perfect balance of empathetic and logic thinking is the key here, but it’s also easier said than done. For more tips on how to control difficult conversations, read our blog on how to improve your diplomatic skills here.
One thing to remember when handling these situations is to never retreat or get defensive as this will only escalate the confrontation. However, if you can foresee that working with a client is not in your best interest, it’s best to cut ties with them in an ethical and thoughtful way. Are there any other tips you use to deal with difficult clients? Let us know in the comments below!