How law firms can best deal with demanding clients

How law firms can best deal with demanding clients

Law firms that have been in practice for a long time have had their fair share of demanding clients. These clients can range from those who push for quick responses — even after office hours — to those who frequently complain and are overly aggressive, insistent on getting exactly what they want.

While it may be hard to turn down business, representing demanding clients can cause more headaches than they’re worth.

Letting clients get their way too often can be detrimental to your lawyers and staff. On the other hand, ignoring clients’ demands could lead them to smear your reputation. To help you find a middle ground, here are some tips for dealing with demanding clients:

Be selective during the intake process

The best way to handle demanding clients is to avoid representing them in the first place. During the intake process, be on the lookout for red flags that may indicate potentially difficult clients. Usually, these are clients who:

  • Get easily angry and are argumentative
  • Have changed their lawyer/s two or more times already
  • Want to sue their previous lawyer/s
  • Have unreasonable or vague expectations (e.g., response times, timetable for the case, legal fees, scope of work) at the outset
  • Unable to clearly communicate their needs and their motivation for requiring legal representation

While it may be hard to turn down business, representing demanding clients can cause more headaches than they’re worth.

Manage client’s expectations

Many attorney-client relationship issues stem from mismatched expectations. Clients often come to you with preconceived notions about results, service, time, and costs. For example, they may mistakenly expect your legal team to provide weekly email updates. If this is beyond or different from what you provide, then the client will always be dissatisfied. Make sure you understand the client’s expectations so you can manage these throughout the engagement.

An effective way to set expectations is to establish rules and procedures that cover the following:

  • Who they can contact for certain concerns (e.g., administrative staff for billing)
  • When and how they can get in touch with you
  • How soon they can expect you to get back to them
  • What type of reports they can expect from you and how often they will receive these reports
  • What will happen if they miss appointments with you and what are considered valid reasons for missed appointments
  • How they will be billed
  • How they can make payments and how non-payment will affect the work
  • What is the expected timetable for the engagement and what are the possible causes for delays

Clients who aren’t amenable to your rules and procedures will often voice their concerns. This will give you the opportunity to decline the representation or adjust your rules and procedures.

Once you and the client have reached an agreement, make sure to follow through with these to fend off unreasonable client demands.

Read also: 8 Simple tips to run a more efficient law firm in 2021

Understand why the client is being demanding
A client may be demanding for myriad reasons. Perhaps they are overwhelmed, confused, or scared about the legal process. Educating them about the legal process may help alleviate their concerns.

Another possible reason may be that they are unhappy with the result of their case. If so, discussing your recommended course of action may help manage their emotions.

Whatever their reason for being demanding may be, correctly identifying it will enable you to deal with the issue effectively.

Get client feedback throughout the engagement

Don’t wait until the end of the engagement or for an issue to arise to find out if you’re meeting your client’s expectations. Instead, ask your clients regularly if they are happy with your service and how you can better address their needs. Doing so will ensure that you’re always on the same page as your client.

Read also: Client satisfaction surveys: 5 Quick questions to ask

Keeping your clients happy warrants your time and attention. That’s why you’re better off outsourcing time-consuming tasks such as obtaining medical records. Partner with us at Record Retrieval Solutions so you can focus on your clients and close cases faster.