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Seven Reasons Clients Fire Lawyers

March, 17 2015
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Jo Stephens
7 Reasons Client Fire Lawyers

There are many reasons why your clients may become dissatisfied and want to seek alternate counsel for their case. Some of these reasons are preventable, others aren’t always. Here are seven of the top reasons why your clients might start looking elsewhere.

1. Failure to communicate:

Lack of communication is generally considered to be the number one reason why a client may leave. And, it’s also often the simplest to avoid. Whether your clients have left you several messages that have gone unreturned, or whether they simply expect you to proactively update them yourself, clients generally want reassurance that their case is moving forward and that you are doing the job they are paying you for. This issue is so important, in fact, that regular communication can often resolve all the other issues on this list.

2. Lawyer incompetence:

Here, we’re talking about actual incompetence. You missed a deadline, or you cited incorrect case law, or gave bad advice. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be able to salvage the client by clear communication and explaining how you’re going to remedy any negative impact on the client (if possible), but expect that a client hurt by your incompetence is likely to seek alternate counsel.

3. Unprofessional behavior:

For better or worse, clients expect their lawyers to be more refined than the average American. Lawyers are expected to dress better, talk better, and generally be better than the average Tom, Dick, or Harry. If your clients find out that you have a bad temper, get drunk, cheat, or break laws, expect that you’ll probably lose some of them.

4. Case is dragging:

This isn’t always your fault, but many clients come to attorneys hoping to be told that all their worries will be resolved by the end of the month. The years it takes to resolve some cases are wearing. Clients may decide that a different, “better” lawyer will make things happen faster. Clear communication from the beginning about the expected time line can help.

5. Negative advice:

Sometimes your client just wants you to tell him that the law is something other than it is. Clients like to believe that lawyers can win any point if they’re just skilled enough – and Hollywood likes to encourage that belief. If you client doesn’t want to accept the reality of the law, however, it might be best to let him leave.

6. Unfavorable ruling:

When you’ve tried your best, but the judge sided with the other party, your client might conclude that you just didn’t work hard enough. Be sure your clients know going in what all the possible outcomes are, and why you might not get what you want.

7. Loss of trust:

At the end of the list, a client who trusts his lawyer to win his case is unlikely to leave. While there are many and varied ways to lose this trust, if you can convince your client that you are still working hard for him, he’s more likely to stay.

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