How to say no to clients

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Post on 23-Jan-2017




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How to Say No to Clients Posted on 11/09/2015 By Oregon Law Practice Management Do any of these sound familiar? I find it difficult to turn away clients I take cases outside my practice area I let myself get talked into things I dont want to do Sometimes I feel I am the only lawyer who can help my clients Did you answer yes to one or more of these questions? You are in good company. Lawyers often feel pressured to practice door law. The source of the pressure may be economic: I dont really have a choice. I need the money. It can also be emotional: Family, friends, or former clients are depending on me. If you find yourself in this predicament frequently, here is some sage advice that first appeared in In Sight. These tips apply no matter who is doing the asking: clients, friends, family, neighbors, teachers, etc.: Be respectful. Listen to the asker and dont interrupt. Respect the request, then respect your right to decline the request. Keep it simple. You have the right to say no. Elaborate justifications arent necessary [and may lead to backsliding, since many of us say yes to avoid feeling guilty]. Assign responsibility elsewhere: That sounds very nice; unfortunately, my calendar is booked solid. Now its your calendars fault. Stand firm. Avoid engaging in discussion or negotiation. Refer to others who might fill the opening well. Say yes when there is a good reason to do so, it will benefit you, or the cause is one you believe in. [Life is too short to take on a case or client you find repugnant.] I encourage you to read the full article here. Postscript What would I add to the above? Its time to keep it 100, get real, and dish some tough love: 1. You are not the only lawyer who can help your clients. If money is an issue, there are others who participate in the OSB modest means program, offer sliding fee services, or take pro bono referrals. If you continually give your time away to nonpaying clients, your practice will decline and you may need to close your doors. If you close your practice, you arent available to help anyone. If the case cant be won, are you doing a service or a disservice by taking it? Once a lawyer commits to a case, many clients assume the case CAN BE WON, no matter how you qualify your representation. Not all clients have a legal remedy, for a variety of reasons. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is better than false hope. You can always suggest [and should suggest] a second opinion. 3. Even when the client has the money and the case is decent, you are not always the right match. Dont let someone push you out of your comfort zone. Law is complex. Staying on top of your desired practice areas is hard enough. Straying into unfamiliar areas is stressful, time consuming, expensive [because of the learning curve], and more likely to result in a claim or bar complaint. 4. You are a lawyer, not a doctor. Keeping clients who wont follow your advice, dont cooperate, and look to place blame anywhere but with themselves, is a pure misery. This is not a situation you can cure, except by firing the client. All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis