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Just A Few Reasons a Lawyer Should Fire the Client

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin’s blog found at sethgodin.typepad.com.  Seth talks in this post about an unreasonable customer and the reasons why you should consider firing a customer or, if you happen to be a lawyer or law firm, a client.  Here’s his list:

  • He willfully corrupts your systems at a cost to other customers
  • Your employees are prevented from doing their best work in the long run
  • His word of mouth can't be changed or doesn't matter
  • He distracts you from delighting customers that are reasonable

I also found Seth’s comments about tolerating certain problem clients to be interesting.  That list is found here:

  • You promised you would
  • She helps you raise your game
  • Her word of mouth is very powerful
  • The cost of frequently figuring out which customers to fire is too high compared to the cost of putting up with everyone

I have to say that bad clients typically don’t make for good word-of-mouth marketing for any attorney.  If a client is really a pain in the ass, you’re probably good than harm by sending them on their way. 



A lawyer friend once recommended, not as a hard-and-fast rule, that once per year lawyers should fire their most difficult client. Simply as a thought exercise, that can put you in mind of how much time and energy a single, difficult client can drain out of your practice. The act of firing a client can also help you better understand what type of new client you don't want to accept (problem signs during the intake process that should make you think twice about entering into a relationship - that's the best time to avoid having a problem client) and to become more comfortable about ending relationships that are no longer constructive.

"Firing" doesn't have to be traumatic; you can often guide the client into parting company by mutual agreement, or if it's a client with continuing needs but where you've completed the services for which you were retained you can simply decline to offer additional services.


I think if he willfully corrupts your systems at a cost to other customers, that is the main fact.
Tampa Lawyers

Olliers Solicitors

If a client's actions are directly affecting your other clients, you definitely need to rethink the relationship. Cutting ties with this client could be what you need to do to make sure your other, more reasonable clients aren't suffering.

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Attorneys sometimes ask about the circumstances under which they must withdraw from a representation, and those under which they are permitted to end it.

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