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August 11, 2008

Represent Only Clients You Like

The first in our series The 12 Rules of Client Service, Rule One is here from November 2005.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzb├╝hel Desk) at August 11, 2008 11:09 PM


A friend of mine once said, when dealing with clients, you should be professional, not nice. I pondered on her perspective for days. If lawyers only served "nice" clients, they might be out of business or at least hard pressed for business. The salient issues are whether the client's behavior precludes the lawyer from being as effective as possible in her representation and the gathering of information. Also, if the lawyer has to litigate, does the client's behavior help or hurt the case?

Although, law firms are "profit-driven" businesses, the mantra "The customer is always right" is ludicrous whether it's selling hamburgers, clothes or legal advice. As a matter of fact, the best business relationships are synergistic and mutually beneficial. Once the respect for the relationship is skewed to one side, the predominant interests of one or the other party might be compromised.

Ask for basic civility as the standard and most clients will oblige.

Core Edge Image & Charisma institute

Posted by: Edward Brown at August 13, 2008 10:12 AM

I was not taught "The customer is always right" in business school. We were taught that the customer is always the customer and should always be treated with respect. They are our bread and butter. When one person has a good experience, they may tell a few of their friends and associates. When they have a bad or negative experience, they will tell every and any one who will listen. Even if we were unable to assist a particular person, we should always have our employer's public relations in mind.

I've been putting off posting my opinion at this thread because I can not come up with the correct words to express my opinion.

I guess all I have to say is that it is a good thing that most businesses do not run under this guideline. It may work for high-paid, high-power attorney types (and perhaps taxi drivers who can be selective on who they let in their cabs), but could you just imagine what the world would be like if everyone only served clients/ customers that they liked... ("NO SOUP FOR YOU!")

Then again, it may force everyone to be more civil, respectful and friendly to each other.

Posted by: Girl Friday at August 14, 2008 08:54 AM

Well, that sounds a bit like 1950s Russia, or what The West would be like if Germany had won WWII.... This blog is mainly for corporate lawyers who want to have great clients and do great work. The rule we have about "liking" the clients is pretty simple--but different for different firms. It just means that you work for people you want to work for; don't court just anyone, because your work will suffer if you do higher-end stuff. At our firm, we "like" sophisticated clients who know great from good from mediocre lawyering.

Our rule: No individuals. No small businesses. No start-ups. All 3, in our view, are a tortuous and frustrating pain-in-the-ass who will drain the lifeblood from really good lawyers. We seek a client large enough to sustain a group of sophisticated in-house lawyers.

All potential clients deserve respect and civility--but not all of them deserve your firm. No need to bottom feed.

Posted by: Dan Hull and Holden Oliver at August 16, 2008 01:05 AM

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