10 things I wish I’d known about clients before practicing law
Posted on November 4th, 2012
- They lie. They may do it on purpose or they may do it because they believe their story. Check everything.
- They are awful (almost always) at obtaining the records you need. Do it yourself. It’s a pain, but it’s better than an order to compel production.
- They forget things. Usually things that sink the case or their credibility. Things like being busted for drugs, or that time the IRS went after them for not paying taxes for eight years. (That was the same guy in the same deposition, by the way.)
- They want you to like them. At least at first. This is one of the reasons that they might lie.
- You can’t count on a client to keep healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries, like when it’s OK to call versus when they need to chill the hell out? That’s your job. (It was great practice for becoming a parent.)
- They can’t stand it if you’re friendly with opposing counsel or, worse, if you actually respect opposing counsel. They think having a bad, asshole lawyer on the other side makes it better for them. (It doesn’t. Having competent and civil opposing counsel on the other side is like a freaking gift from the deity I don’t believe in.)
- They will talk shit about you as soon as the case is over. I never cared about this, but it’s the way it goes.
- They will not pay an outstanding bill (without a lot of work on your part) after the case is over. Get your money first.
- You can’t count on them to remember a phone call, or even to remember the vague gist of a phone call. Put it in writing.
- You should never call or email a client after working hours (“regular” working hours). This sets up the idea that maybe you routinely work at 11 PM. Don’t open that door.
PS: If you like this post, I wrote a little book about practicing law, too.