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3 Things to Avoid When Trying to Sign a Prospective Client

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By Andrew Lu on September 18, 2012 6:46 AM

The difference between a successful law practice and one that doesn't work out often depends upon how you talk to and close on prospective clients.

When you're starting off, you may be tempted to say anything to a prospective client -- especially, the really big whales -- to get their business.

But you should be careful not to make too many promises or guarantees or you could find yourself in trouble, and possibly even the target of a lawsuit brought by the once-coveted client. Here are three things you should never say to a prospective client:

  1. Guarantee a Win. No matter how open-and-shut a case may seem, you should never guarantee a victory. There's no such thing as a sure win, and that's especially the case when you have to bring a case before a judge, jury, and opposing counsel. You can tell your clients they have an excellent case, but always be sure to explain the downsides and risks as well. Without realistic expectations, your client may deem a total failure of anything short of a total victory.
  2. Provide a Fixed Fee. It's one thing to charge a flat rate for a specific service like filling out paperwork. It's another to give yourself no wiggle room to charge more should something unexpected happen. In almost every case, there will be unexpected legal issues and nuances. Without flexibility with your rates, you may not be able to capture that time.
  3. Give a Definite Timeline. If you're involved in litigation, you should never provide definite timelines. It's okay to give a rough timeline, but the reality is that a trial is too unpredictable to give any concrete dates as to when a matter will be settled.

If you're in need of clients, you may find yourself wanting to tell prospective clients whatever they want to hear so that they'll retain your services. You should avoid this temptation and provide realistic expectations instead.

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