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3 Things You Can Learn From Bad Clients

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

'I just need some quick advice' -- famous first words from that time-wasting, non-paying client.

Not to be harsh, but if someone starts with that line, your "no-pay-radar" should beep or something. Sure, you should give "quick advice" when appropriate, but if you make it a habit you will not make money.

These are lessons from the trenches of law practice, where you can get dirty sometimes. Here are three things you can learn from the bad clients you may find there.

Avoid Window-Shoppers

Window-shoppers, tire-kickers, whatever you want to call them. These clients hang around, getting all they can for free without stepping into your office and committing to a professional engagement.

If they finally hire you for something, don't be surprised if you get more of the same. Phone calls, text messages, email and more prodding for legal information in the guise of "just looking."

"I didn't know you were going to bill for that" -- famous last words when they head out the door with an unpaid bill.

Know the Signs of Promiscuous Clients

We're not talking about clients who sleep around. We're talking about those who have been with every law office in town.

FindLaw's Casey Sullivan says they may be impossible to please. Those clients are not worth it, he says.

"Red flags include complaining about multiple past representations and changing attorneys several times," he wrote.

Social Media Reflection

Social media can be great for business, until some media-savvy client gives you a bad review. Of course, some attorneys deserve it.

But there's something to learn from every "bad" client experience. Shannon Achimalbe, writing for Above the Law, says that's a good time for self-evaluation.

"By looking at the situation from the client's perspective, even if it seems unreasonable, you could discover inefficiencies in your practice that you didn't know about," she said.

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