First Things First

The reason to run and operate your own law practice is so that you don’t have to take on clients that you don’t like. Furthermore, taking on the wrong type of client will suck the energy and delight right out of you, all the while the leech can’t even pay your bill. It is exhausting and I don’t want you to be “that” lawyer.

Here are the front line questions you should ask yourself before accepting a new client:

Do I like this person / company?

Can I make this client happy?

Can this client pay?

Does this client understand my firm’s communication policies?

Next, SWOT Analysis

Organizations perform SWOT analyses to gauge internal strengths and weaknesses. Through this analysis, an organization can gain a clear understanding of external threats, as well as methods for capitalizing on strengths and turning them into opportunities. Ask yourself the following questions, and see what this analysis can do for you.

Strengths ­– When you are interviewing a client for your firm or reviewing a potential case, ask yourself, “What are the pros of this new relationship?” Identify at least one clear “pro” to bringing on a new client or taking on a new case. How will this relationship strengthen your firm’s profit, reach, and/or publicity?

Weaknesses – Objectively analyze the new case or relationship. What negative ramifications could it have for your firm? What issues could it pose? These problems could be as simple as a client who doesn’t form timely responses or a type of case that is unfamiliar to you.

Opportunities – Can you make this client happy? Will you be proud of the work you are able to accomplish for this client? What other benefits will you gain from this case or relationship? How can you take advantage of these opportunities moving forward?

Threats ­– Do your research: has another lawyer fired this client? Your license could be on the line. In the same way that hiring a bad lawyer could jeopardize your firm’s reputation, you also need to view every potential client as a risk to your firm’s reputation, as well as to your bar license. Unstable clients, or clients who have made derogatory claims in the past, are threats to you and your practice.

After you can answer the above questions, the next step is to have a third party review your analysis. If you are a solo practice, have a friend or a spouse who knows your business goals make the final call.

As a business owner, I was accepting the wrong types of clients in the past, and I was losing confidence in my effectiveness as a designer and marketer. To properly gauge potential clients, I began creating unbiased reports for my friend to review so that he could assist with my final decision.

 

This article was written by a business professional—not a lawyer. Highly Anticipated believes in supporting the legal profession with relevant and meaningful business advice.

The attached pdf is the worksheet every lawyer should use to vet all potential clients, prior to signing a letter of engagement.