Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bad Clients

Not mine. Yours. You need to get rid of them.

Bad clients mess up your practice. The 80/20 rule holds that 80% of your collection problems, complaints and other headaches come from the least desirable 20% of your clients.

Worse, every minute that you spend on bad clients is a minute taken away from good clients.

In general, you don’t build a good practice on bad clients. They rarely make referrals – and, when they do, the client they send you is just as bad as they are. Also, other attorneys will see that you have bad clients and will send you more of them.

The first step in purging your bad clients is to grade your client list. Consider what your A clients have in common. Ditto for your Cs. (One attorney told me there are no B clients – “B” is just a temporary grade for people who haven’t shown their true colors.)

Your A clients will have two or more of these qualities:
  • Good character
  • Good to work with
  • Pay on time, without unreasonable complaint
  • Need, recognize and respond to good legal work
  • Can refer other A clients
  • Have repeat business
  • Let you get close enough to recognize and handle their other legal needs

Think about what practicing law would be like if you could give all your time and energy to A clients. Then, fire all of your C clients and never knowingly accept another one.