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Not Worth It: 5 Kinds of Clients to Avoid

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

We've all had difficult clients, be they the kind who refuse to pay up or who, after an hour on Wikipedia, decide they know the law better than you. But what if we could get rid of them altogether?

You can avoid bad clients, by refusing to take them on in the first place. If you see one of these five terrible client types, stay away! No matter how much you bill, they won't be worth it.

1. The Promiscuous, So to Speak, Client -- We're not talking about bedroom behavior here. If the client has been to every firm in town, you might want to watch out. These clients could simply be impossible to please or quick to cut ties -- either way, they're more work than they're worth. Red flags include complaining about multiple past representations and changing attorneys several times.

2. The Deluded Client -- A client with unreasonable expectations is a client you're not going to be able to satisfy. If the client insists his iffy case is a sure thing, or won't even consider any option other than victory in court, you might want to take a pass before he claims his bad case is due to your malpractice.

3. The Cheapskate -- Lawyers are expensive, we understand, and it's smart business to focus on reducing costs for clients. But a client who is going to spend more time complaining about costs than discussing legal issues is one to avoid, unless you love arguing over unpaid invoices.

4. The Straight Up Liar -- Nothing is worse than a client who lies to her lawyer or asks her lawyer to lie for her. A client who lies or fails to disclose necessary information can set you up to be blindsided by the other side. If you can discover the deceit and part ways before you're caught unaware, consider yourself lucky.

5. The Mule -- Some people are just stubborn. They won't take your advice no matter how wise it is. As lawyers, you can roll with it, accepting their choice and providing the best guidance on how to proceed, even if you won't advice proceeding in the first place. But, your time and effort is valuable and expending it on a client who won't appreciate it can be more frustrating than it's worth.

Remember, you don't just want clients, you want the right clients, so feel free to be picky when bringing in new business.

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