Resolve to Fire Better


In yesterday's resolution I encouraged you to understand what makes your bad clients bad, and avoid taking any more like them.  But what do you do with the terrible clients that are already on your books?  Fire them!

Sounds easy, but the reason so many lawyers continue to serve clients they shouldn't is that it is uncomfortable/awkward/difficult/etc. to let those bad clients go — especially early in the relationship when we know the client is a difficult one, but promise ourselves they'll improve.  Sound familiar?

So today's resolution is an easy one:  Resolve to Fire Better.  Start by reviewing the ethics rules in your jurisdiction regarding termination of the attorney-client relationship, and then:

  1. Add a "Client Expectations" section to your retainer agreement that sets out the kinds of things you expect from your clients and the things they're prohibited from doing (like belittling your staff, constantly canceling appointments, etc.).
  2. Draft three form letters (first warning, stern reminder, and "You're Fired!") that you can pull out on a moment's notice and use with minimal modification when clients deserve one.
  3. Write a script of the what you'll say when you tell the client they're fired.
  4. Practice your script!  Difficult conversations become less so when you're accustomed to having them.

Once you've cleaned out your waiting room, you'll be able to start focusing on the clients you love to serve, and on building your practice to serve them better.  More on that in tomorrow's resolution.

(Thanks to Julie A. Fleming, who's comment on yesterday's post contained some great advice on firing clients.)

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