Problem Clients

Eighty percent of our fees are earned from contingent fees representing plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from medical negligence, careless truck or automobile drivers, etc. The rest of our fees come from hourly work arising from commercial litigation or, occasionally, plaintiffs in personal injury cases who prefer to pay by the hour.

I say that to say this: client selection is a key to profitability and sanity in a trial practice. In a personal injury case, poor client selection can result in the loss of an otherwise good case. In a commercial case, a bad client can cause untold grief.

Here is a link to a post by Matthew Holmann under the title “Fire These Clients Now,” who in turn links to post from a software shop.

Here is a sample of problem clients from Matthew’s post:

THE DISILLUSIONED consistently expresses disappointment with your work even though it is of good quality and conforms to spec.

THE SUSPICIOUS consistently expresses a lack of trust, disdain for your work, or questions your integrity.

THE CHISELER consistently complains about your bill, even though it conforms to the estimate they agreed to.

THE BULLY consistently is verbally abusive or threatening to you.

THE SOMETHING-FOR-NOTHING consistently increases the scope of the project but refuses to pay for the additional work.

As I said above, go to Matthew’s post for more types of problem clients.

Sometimes, you make more money turning down work than you do accepting it. More importantly, you can (help) preserve your sanity by making good case acceptance decisions.