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What to Do When Clients Demand More for Less

Have you ever put something on Craigslist, only to have potential buyers low-ball you so low that "dirt cheap" sounded good?

Or, if you are from the last century, did you ever have a garage sale and somebody offered to take "that junk" off your hands for nothing?

That's the same kind of thing that happens with some clients -- the low-ballers who try to make you feel like they're doing you a favor. Here's how to respond: "No, thank you."

No, Thank You

Clients need you, not the other way around. Sure you need some clients -- but not the bad ones.

Everybody who has hung a shingle knows the bad clients you don't take will be the best money you never made. Randall Ryder, writing for the Lawyerist, says there are warning signs when a client:

  • Calls with a legal emergency, then doesn't return your calls
  • Sends incessant emails with documents before hiring you
  • Makes an appointment and then doesn't show or reschedules repeatedly
  • Explains they previously hired another attorney but want to give you a shot

Any one of these reasons should give you pause to reconsider, but if they all apply, then it's terminal. Get out while you can before the disease spreads.

Seriously, taking on one bad client can lead to a worse habit of taking no-good clients or cases. Before you know it, you will be losing money.

More for Less

You are supposed to make money in the law business, so figure it out as soon as possible. If clients come in demanding more service for less money, here are some possible responses:

  • You won't discount their fees because it's not fair to other clients
  • You offer alternative fee agreements, such as flat fees or hybrids
  • You can refer them to other attorneys who may be less expensive

It takes some resolve -- and maybe some nerve -- to show a client the door. But if you want to keep the doors open, you have to let in the paying clients.

Besides, the clients you don't want can always find another lawyer on Craigslist.

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