Attorneys come up to me all the time and say, “I wish I could be picky with my clients like you are. I can’t wait until I get to that point.”
My response is always the same…
You can’t wait for that day to come. You have to make it happen.
It’s not like you’ll show up at the office one day and, all of a sudden, you’ll stop taking on those cheap, unreasonable, high-maintenance, deadbeat clients. Being trapped by pain-in-the-rear clients isn’t a hole you can slowly crawl your way out of.
You need to make the choice, now, that you’re going to play by different rules. Your rules. And you‘re only going to accept clients who are willing to play by your rules.
The kind of clients who will help you build your practice.
After all, the tales of woe spun by most attorneys are the result of their own failure to take control of their business. And their clients.
Pain-in-the-rear clients typically have the following traits.
Pain in the Rear Trait 1: They think they own you.
Bad clients are under the impression that they own the lawyer because they’re paying the lawyer.
Lawyers usually help create that impression.
When you don’t give the client a reason to view you as anything but a commodity lawyer, you give all control to the client.
Clients should view you as a peer, not a servant. This requires you to bring something to the table besides a low price tag.
If you don’t want to be a commodity, don’t compete on price, regardless of where you are in the development of your practice.
Stop doing it and stop making excuses. Or you’ll keep attracting pain-in-the-rear clients.
Pain in the Rear Trait 2: They don’t listen.
As an attorney, your listening skills are essential. But client listening skills are equally important.
A good client listens to your advice because they see you as a partner who can help solve their problem.
If a client is always focused on their own little world, where they have all the answers and you’re just a puppet, they’ll never be a good client.
And if something goes wrong, even if it’s their fault, they’ll blame you. Always.
Note to Practice Alchemy members: We have a training module called Hopscotch Selling, a methodology designed to help you close good clients while screening out the bad ones.
Pain in the Rear Trait 3: They won’t follow your process.
I’ve written before about how important it is to have a process. It’s the only way to build a real law firm.
If you have formal processes, they need to be followed. Period.
Otherwise, you’ll never have control of your business.
When you have a client who won’t follow your processes, you can’t service them in a way that allows you to grow your business.
In my practice, we had processes about document control that clearly explained who did what and when. Clients who closely followed those processes got outstanding results.
If a client insisted on doing things their way, and they refused to get on board with our process, we stopped working with them. Plain and simple. And guess what, it worked. Outstanding results for great clients. At premium rates - because the right clients, good clients, value process. And understand that the quality it brings is valuable.
When you’re trying to build a law firm, it’s just not worth it to reinvent the wheel for every single client.
Good Process + Good People = Good Firm
Without a process, you have no predictability and no equity. Instead of creating a valuable practice, all you’ve done is create a really annoying job for yourself.
When I talk about good people, I’m referring to both your employees and your clients. Everyone needs to buy in to what you’re trying to accomplish.
When you blend the right processes with the right people, practicing law can actually be enjoyable. And a heck of a lot more profitable.