Few things can place your law career in jeopardy faster than a dissatisfied client. You may have learned in your earliest days as a lawyer that one of your first tasks is getting your clients to accept the reality of their situations, and this often means lowering their expectations.
Nevertheless, some types of clients will almost certainly mean trouble for you. If you are able to recognize them, you may decide it is better for your law practice to decline to represent them rather than risk the grief they may bring. Ironically, these may not always be the ones who are guilty of committing a crime.
Practicing law often requires a total commitment of your time and energy. However, even if you are trying to build your practice, certain types of clients may not be ideal for you, personally and professionally. Not only do some clients sap your strength, but they may also place you at risk of losing your license or at least facing disciplinary measures. Some examples include these:
- A client who hires you specifically to wreak havoc on someone else's life may be volatile enough to seek vengeance against you if he or she is unsatisfied with the outcome.
- A client whose case has him or her in fits of rage may be difficult to control and may place you in harm's way even if you are not necessarily in physical danger.
- A client who shows no respect to you or your staff may be too difficult to please even if the outcome of the case is positive. You may find it hard to get payment from such a client.
- A client who flirts with you or offers inappropriate favors in exchange for your legal services will likely persist in this behavior and may end up reporting you for misconduct.
Of course, you may be dealing with many potential clients who have impractical expectations about their cases or your role as their attorney. You may be able to set some of them straight about your fees, your availability to them, the time their case will take and the potential outcomes. Others may not be able to overcome their idealistic opinions or let go of their unrealistic goals. This may lead to trouble, especially if they claim you did not communicate the reality to them.
If you find yourself facing the California State Bar for disciplinary actions from a client complaint, you do not want to deal with this matter alone. In fact, it may be in your best interests to seek the advice of a legal professional who has extensive experience protecting the rights of fellow lawyers in similar circumstances.