Many legal practitioners have met a demanding client who made them unhappy and their job difficult.
A demanding client can make your work so hard that you are tempted to ask him or her to take the file and shove it.
But, legal practice is a business and needs clients to grow. One of the qualities of a good lawyer is the ability to deal with different kinds of clients.
While some clients are no trouble at all, others will leave you broke, exhausted, and panting for breath.
If not handled well, a demanding client can cause irreparable damage to your business and legal practice.
It is imperative therefore to learn the skills required to handle a demanding client. The following tips can help you deal with difficult clients.
Decline their Briefs.
While it is difficult to spot a demanding client, you can smell some of them from ten miles away.
Always listen to your heart and follow your hunch. Most of us recognize a difficult client but will accept the brief anyway, sometimes because the money is good. Big mistake!
No matter how much a demanding client pays you, you will end up paying much more with your time and peace of mind.
So the best thing is to decline briefs from clients whom you suspect will give you nothing but trouble.
Most times people are so frustrated with difficult customers that they don’t even want to listen to what they have to say.
One of the best ways to handle a demanding client is to just listen to the complaints and questions. Sometimes all a demanding client wants to do is to rant. You’ll be surprised that after getting things off their chest, most demanding clients calm down.
And please do not listen absentmindedly. Clients will know when you can’t wait for them to finish and go. Listen by taking notes or asking for clarifications.
Lawyers should remember that no two clients are the same. While it’s a delight to work with some clients, others come as nightmares.
Don’t be rigid and think you know what a customer wants even before listening to his complaints.
A demanding client can be such a pain in the neck that there’s always a temptation to show him/her the door.
But learning how to stay calm is a great strategy to keep your own emotions in check and of de-escalating an explosive situation.
Patience has also been found to be a great way to preserve your mental health. Studies have shown that patient people handle stressful situations better than those who are impatient.
So if you don’t want to be patient for the sake of a demanding client, do it for your mental health.
Questions are great ways of identifying the main issues in a conversation. Asking questions will help you identify a client’s mindset.
Inventors, creators, and problem-solvers ask a lot of questions. By asking themselves or other people questions, they learn the answers necessary to solve problems.
Lawyers have a responsibility to make their clients understand every action they take. Questions increase the understanding between you and your clients.
Refer a Demanding Client
Whenever you feel that a demanding client is asking for more than you can deliver, then it is time to refer him to another lawyer.
Don’t worry about the money you’ll lose, it’s not worth it.
Lawyers do not usually admit that they don’t know something. But for your sanity admit ignorance and tell a demanding client to try another lawyer.
You’ve certainly heard the popular saying that customers are always right. Well, that may not be entirely true.
No client has the right to take your peace of mind and cause you sleepless nights. One of the best ways to handle difficult clients is to have well-defined boundaries.
If you want to have a life, do not allow clients to cross those boundaries and make you miserable. Lawyers who do not have boundaries suffer tragic consequences immediately or in the long run.
Some lawyers have wrecked their health by going all out to satisfy their clients and neglecting to take care of themselves. Others have watched their family and social relationships go down the drain.
Lawyers should learn when to say no and put down their feet for their health, happiness, and safety.
Increase Your Fees.
Many lawyers will readily acknowledge that their most difficult clients are not even the best paying.
Most clients who are reluctant to pay the correct fees are those who will break all the rules.
One way to handle clients like this is to double or triple your fees. You will notice that they will naturally take their miserable briefs somewhere else.
A demanding client who will agree to pay the increased fees will invariably be paying for the stress he or she will cause.
End the Brief.
If you have made the mistake of biting more than you can chew by taking a brief from a demanding client, you can save yourself by ending it.
When you’ve done all within your power to manage a demanding client and he keeps putting pressure on you, the best thing is to move on.
By recognizing when to call it quits, you will save yourself from further embarrassment, headache, and stress from a demanding client.
The reality of legal practice is that once in a while you will come in contact with a demanding client.
The way you handle each client will depend on the value and cost they bring to your practice.
Some clients can be demanding but pay very well to cover the trouble they cause. Others pay peanuts but cause problems worth a million bucks.
Lawyers need to be healthy physically and emotionally to carry out their functions effectively. Any client who is out of control and stresses you out is not worth the trouble.