Sometimes, We Just Have to Say No: Warning Signs That Should Make You Think Before Taking On a Potential Client
Leena S. Hingnikar
Leena S. Hingnikar is a Certified Family Law Specialist, and partner with the law firm of Walzer Melcher LLP. She specializes in complex dissolution issues and premarital agreements. Ms. Hingnikar is currently serving as one of the webinar chairs for the California Lawyers Association Family Law Section.
All of us have been in a position in which we know that we should just say "no" to a potential client. All the warning signs are there, but often we find ourselves saying "yes" for a number of reasons. These reasons never turn out to be good enough in the long run. For example, a potential client comes in for a consultation with a large box full of random, disorganized, meaningless papers and spreads them out on your conference room table. Potential client is convinced his spouse is running a cash business and all of the disorganized papers prove it. (They don’t). You tell yourself that business has been slow, so you will take this case on because you have the time and need the money. You tell yourself that the issues are really interesting, or maybe that the potential client’s disorganization and ability to fill up your entire conference room table with irrelevant documents is justified because he is going through a really tough time in his life. (It’s not).
As family law attorneys, we are trained to justify our client’s bad behavior. However, you shouldn’t be making excuses for potential clients before they even hire you. Below are some warning signs that, if exhibited, you should consider before taking on a potential client: