Now that we have covered a lot of ground on what is not a perfect client, I thought it would be appropriate to turn our attentions to the qualities which make a perfect client. I made a list of the clients I have enjoyed representing through the years. From that list, I developed another list of qualities that I believe made them such good clients. Here is a bullet list of some of the qualities that I came up with:
- Loyal: I am surprised that the one quality which seemed to predominate was the concept of loyalty. It is odd to talk about a client being loyal to their attorney. However, my best clients through the years have all exhibited this important trait. Loyalty has translated well on the ground. For instance, my loyal clients do not simply fly off the handle when the first thing goes wrong in the case or the first unexpected event arises. Loyal clients know that your interest is to protect them and immediately focus on problem solving when difficult issues arise. This attribute has not only made my job easier, but had a positive impact on their case and the results we were able to achieve in virtually every instance.
- Hard Working: My best clients have no fear of jumping into the problem at hand and doing some heavy lifting. They review the documents that are produced by the defendant. They identify the documents that they believe are key. The prepare well for their depositions. They put the time and effort into their discovery responses. They are part of the team and help the attorney achieve great results.
- Sensible: My best clients have been sensible about what the legal system can achieve for them and the results that might be expected. Unlike the client who demands to obtain their attorneys fees as part of damages in cases where no attorney’s fees are possible, sensible client takes a look at their problem and does a cost benefit analysis. They understand and appreciate that it makes no sense to spend forty thousand dollars on a twenty thousand dollar problem. They appreciate that litigation is the last resort not the first step in problem solving. They do not blame the attorney because it can take over twelve months to see a jury trial in a case. A sensible client takes an objective look at their legal problem and understands which solutions are achievable in any particular period of time.
- Trustworthy: In thinking about my perfect clients, it became clear that these are all people who I could trust. I knew that they would provide me accurate and truthful information. I know that they would not play games. They take responsibility for their own actions and open up without reservation to me as their attorney. Some clients fail to understand that a lawyer cannot help them unless they understand fully what the problem is. The client who holds a few little items back is the client that typically loses in the end. A trustworthy client is a critical piece of any successful litigation.
I would be very interested in hearing what your thoughts are concerning the perfect client. Although this seems like a simple exercise, I am astounded by how much I now look at prospective clients in a careful manner after having thought hard about these issues. I can almost immediately identify which ones are untrustworthy and unrealistic. Before, I would have agreed to represent them without hesitation. Today, I am more likely to send them on their way.