Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Angry Clients

How much do you allow them to abuse and berate you before yo tedandlisa12302/02/17
You draw the line before, by the time they are doing that, i triplesix02/02/17
Never let a client abuse or berate you. isthisit02/02/17
Prevent, Remind, Quarantine, Terminate unlearnedhand02/02/17
Yeah, it's not a good idea to let a client abuse and berate guyingorillasuit02/02/17
offer your client to resign, and if they don't want you to, dingbat02/03/17
Agreed. mtobeinf02/03/17
This. sjlawyer02/03/17
In my experience, abusive clients typically fall into two ca anothernjlawyer02/03/17
Fire them. Just fired one this morning, now he is asking me mnjd02/03/17
In a perfect world the minute a client berates you, begins t cocolawyer02/03/17
tedandlisa123 (Feb 2, 2017 - 5:31 pm)

How much do you allow them to abuse and berate you before you draw the line?

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triplesix (Feb 2, 2017 - 5:40 pm)

You draw the line before, by the time they are doing that, it is to late to fix the situation without a huge fallout. This applies to all other relationships too.

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isthisit (Feb 2, 2017 - 6:37 pm)

Never let a client abuse or berate you.

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unlearnedhand (Feb 2, 2017 - 6:47 pm)

Prevent, Remind, Quarantine, Terminate

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guyingorillasuit (Feb 2, 2017 - 6:48 pm)

Yeah, it's not a good idea to let a client abuse and berate you. If you let that happen once, they will no longer respect you. The attorney-client relationship breaks down.

On the other hand, many clients cannot handle the emotional strain of litigation and need help processing their emotions. If you can separate this type of person from an abuser who wants to blame you, you can talk them down, and gently suggest therapy of some kind.

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dingbat (Feb 3, 2017 - 9:40 am)

offer your client to resign, and if they don't want you to, tell them next time they behave like that, you will consider it equivalent to dismissing you as their attorney. Tell them what you will no longer be obligated to do (basically, imply that the case will be dropped and they can go f*ck themselves).

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mtobeinf (Feb 3, 2017 - 9:41 am)

Agreed.

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sjlawyer (Feb 3, 2017 - 12:16 pm)

This.

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anothernjlawyer (Feb 3, 2017 - 2:02 pm)

In my experience, abusive clients typically fall into two categories:

1) The type A, "I hired you and you work for me!" kind of client who thinks that they own you; and

2) The mentally ill client.

You have to maintain control, demand respect, and respond proportionally. You should learn how to escalate your temper without losing it.

When the client crosses the line, calling you stupid, incompetent, cursing, or even just losing their temper and screaming in general, shut it down immediately. Tell them they can't talk to you that way in as loud a voice as they used. If they don't immediately back down, hang up the phone or tell them to leave your office. Don't try to hash out the issue that prompted the blowup at that time....with mentally ill clients, especially, this is completely unproductive. You have to make it clear that at that point, it's not about the case issue, it's about you and him. Afterwards, send them a letter memorializing the encounter, advising them of their right to discharge you, and telling them that you will withdraw from their case if it happens again. They'll either fire you, or respect you, but they won't sh!t on you anymore.

Of course, context is everything. I'll defer to a biglaw poster on how a 3rd year associate should handle getting reamed out by the CEO of his firm's biggest client, etc..

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mnjd (Feb 3, 2017 - 2:22 pm)

Fire them. Just fired one this morning, now he is asking me to represent him. This ship has sailed!

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cocolawyer (Feb 3, 2017 - 2:48 pm)

In a perfect world the minute a client berates you, begins to be rude to you, you should stand up right then and there. You should have a very spirited come to Jesus talk with them. If they don't apologize right then and there, fire them.

In my industry it is a bit more complex. These individuals can write negative reviews which will effect your marketability in the future.

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