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Red Flag Client Bingo!

by Carolyn Elefant on February 19, 2014 · 10 comments

in Client Relations

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Clients who forget checkbooks. Or want to bring a case for the principle of the thing. Or who assure you that they’ve got a multi-million dollar, slam dunk claim.  If you’ve practiced law for even three weeks, you’ve probably encountered at least one of these red-flags. Trouble is, starting out, you may not recognize these comments for what they are.

Used to be that the only solace for lawyers who encounter these kinds of prospects is that you eventually outgrow them or you gain the resources to deal with them.  As you practice for a long time, you’ll find that an increasing percentage of your cases will come from referrals from satisfied clients or other lawyers who presumably, won’t send duds your way. Alternatively, if you generate lots of calls via search engines or the internet, you may eventually need to hire a savvy assistant to screen out red flag clients.

How can you spot red-flag clients before they become a drain on your practice? Why not track them the fun way, though a game of Red Flag Client Bingo, created by Vermont lawyer L. Maxwell Taylor.  Taylor’s bingo card includes 42 of the best reasons to send a potential client packing.  And while this is one game of Bingo that you don’t ever want to win, if you do, you’ll find yourself in good company since most lawyers have won at least one round at some point in their career.

Red Flag Intake Sheet BINGO

Have you won at this Bingo game? Are there other red flags you’d add to the card, or spaces that you don’t agree with? Chime in with your comments below.

  • Bill

    “Bill, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but last night on Law and Order….”

  • The Kielich Law Firm

    I’ve had at least twelve of those. Many within the same call or email.

  • Scott Riddle

    It will be a high profile case with plenty of free publicity.

  • Baby lawyer

    Top right corner, why is that a red flag? Isn’t every prospective client looking for a lawyer to “take the case”? Why else would they be looking for a lawyer, to NOT represent them?

  • L. Max Taylor

    Responding to “Baby lawyer”: A great many people jump to the conclusion that they “have a case” without knowing or caring what the law is. They just feel wronged and they want to sue. They want to express their outrage, and they assume the legal system provides them a way to do that, and a payoff. Not uncommonly these people become very annoyed when a lawyer doing an intake applies basic principles of law to their facts and tries to counsel them as to why they will lose when suit is brought. Clients you can work with are those who have a “situation” and want to find out if they have an actionable claim. Those who come to you purporting to get you to “take their case” almost always are trying to sell you on a loser. Talk to a few dozen of these people in the next five years and see if you agree!

  • L. Max Taylor

    A great many people jump to the conclusion that they “have a case” without knowing or caring what the law is. They just feel wronged and they want to sue. They want to express their outrage, and they assume the legal system provides them a way to do that, and a payoff. Not uncommonly these people become very annoyed when a lawyer doing an intake applies basic principles of law to their facts and tries to counsel them as to why they will lose when suit is brought. Clients you can work with are those who have a “situation” and want to find out *if* they have an actionable claim. Those who come to you purporting to get you to “take their case” almost always have decided they have a case without benefit of competent legal analysis and are trying to sell you on a loser. Talk to a few dozen of these people in the next five years and see if you agree!

  • L. Max Taylor

    Good one!

  • CAZ

    (1) Drops the names of 2 or more high profile attorneys who are “close friends” but wants you to represent him for some unspecified reason.
    (2) Is also a licensed attorney in the same state.

  • Erik Fritz

    Casually mentions that two of the three attorneys s/he met with previously to discuss the same legal matter agree with your analysis of the case.

  • Erik Fritz

    Brings a typewritten seven-page list of questions to the initial client consultation.

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