Getting clients is probably the most difficult challenge for a new solo practitioner.
You may be desperate for a start, or have hit a dry patch, and any potential client seems appealing. However, you should be aware that not all prospective clients are created equal.
In fact, there may be times when a prospective client who walks in through your doors is more trouble than he is worth. Here are three types of clients you should be wary of:
- Lawyer-hopper. You may want to think twice about retaining a client who is constantly changing attorneys. If the client complains about his old representation and has gone through several attorneys, the client may just be a malcontent. You could be the focus of the lawyer-hopper's complaints and vitriol as soon as he decides to move on from you too. Changing attorneys once is okay, but multiple changes should raise a red flag.
- Just win, baby. You're never going to satisfy a client with unreasonable expectations. If you think the case is a dud or that the client would never want to settle, you may want to move on. That's because even if you win most of what the client wants, the client may still view you as a loser and sue you for malpractice.
- Penny-pincher. It's a bad sign if you're spending more time haggling about fees than discussing legal issues. A penny-pincher will haunt you to the very last photocopy. And when it's time to collect your bill, there's a good chance the penny-pincher will be nowhere to be found.
When starting a solo practice, getting clients should not be your top priority. Getting the right clients should be. Along with these three archetypes, you should also trust your gut. If a client just doesn't feel right, or comes off as sleazy, you may want to move on.
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