Difficult Clients in Law

Lawyers and dealing with difficult clients

As lawyers you can’t avoid them. Amongst your case load, there will be difficult clients you dread communicating with. Every time the phone rings, you think it will be them despite the fact they are one of many clients you have.

They may even occasionally pop into the office to see you as if you have all the time in the world to spend with them. Well, from their point of view they are paying you a lot of money to do a job, yet they will probably still gasp at the bill when all this extra time they have demanded from you has cost them. When you are told they are waiting for you in reception, you wonder how long you can pretend to be at lunch.

Ultimately, difficult clients can knock your confidence and increase stress levels, particularly if you are a perfectionist or have a tendency to feel sensitive towards what people think about you.

You may feel you are not doing your job very well when you can’t seem to do anything to please your client.  You may think they don’t like you and end up spending more time and energy on these clients than any of your other clients who require your valuable time as well.

How to deal with a difficult client

What are your options?

  1. Try, try and try again to please your client
  2. Avoid your client
  3. Find ways to deal with your client so that you can limit the time you spend feeling worried and stressed about them and focus positively on work that needs to be done.

Unsurprisingly, I would suggest 1 and 2 are unrealistic so how about focusing on number 3?  Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  1. Don’t take it personally.
  2. Try and understand the conversation from the client’s point of view by asking open questions. This will ensure they feel listened to.
  3. Focus on what you did well. Don’t dwell on the negative part of difficult conversations you may have had with your client. Move on and decide your next action.
  4. Go for a walk or take a break after a difficult interaction to clear you head. You will be much more productive upon returning to your desk.
  5. Talk to your boss about it.

Give it a go. It will be much better this way, than panicking every time your phone rings. It may even improve your relationship with these clients and you will miss them when they no longer need you!

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