Friday, April 1, 2011

Dealing With The Nightmare Client

Seasoned attorneys will tell you that your worst enemy as an attorney is not opposing counsel, not the judge, not the insurance adjuster, not the medical provider, but your client. Yes you law school applicants, unlike TV shows that portray grateful clients thanking their attorneys for their hard work, the reality is that the biggest reason for attorneys low job satisfication is in fact CLIENT dissatisfaction.

Just recently I settled a case for a client who was a complete asshole. This guy yelled at me on a regular basis, hung up on me and my secretary at least half a dozen times. These special clients, I have come to believe, actually enjoy punishing and abusing their attorneys. These sore losers, who have very little to show for in life, for once have a chance to be in control. Lo and behold some junior attorney comes along whom they can dictate the terms to. They are the boss and they know it. Not that I have a problem with this arrangement as being employed in the "legal services" places me in the service industry. I am there to serve my client, pursuing his rights and representing him in his action against the defendant. The problem arises when they ABUSE the service. And believe me when I say this, if you plan on becoming a lawyer, prepare to be abused by your clients. I've had punk attorneys give me shit from time to time but the vast majority of them are very professional, courteous and respectful. Typically, when problems arise, it is due to unrealistic client expectations. And don't expect a thank you or any gratitude for your work when the case is over as the majority of my clients aren't satisfied when the case is over. Some are grateful and make you feel good about your work. The majority are lukewarm, not happy but not pissed either. Some are downright nasty and will call you names, insult you and treat you like shit. These people are just bad people in general and once they realize they are in control of the situation they will act like the monsters that they are.

It's odd how a messed up client can ruin your day. Despite the fact that I spoke to numerous attorneys, insurance reps, doctors, and secretaries today, it took just one bad client to ruin my day. Thankfully, by the afternoon I let it go and just accepted the fact that some people are miserable for their own reasons. Most importantly, it is imperative to NOT let miserable people bring you down with them.

The reality is this; on a single day we will encounter many people. Some will smile, many will be just there, and maybe a few will be outright assholes. Life will include assholes. Lets try to focus and remember the people with the smiles.



  1. As an attorney with 20 years of experience, I think prostitutes are treated with more courtesy and respect by their "clients" than lawyers are. Luckily, I am in a position to terminate clients if they become abusive. However, if you are starting out in the legal business, you have to eat shit for a long time.

  2. Anywhere you work you're gonna deal with assholes who yell at you sometimes. I'm happy I worked various retail jobs before becoming a lawyer, it's helped me immensely to prepare for this.

  3. Yeah, around here we say someone like that has "an unfortunate personality," noting also that this is "their cross to bear."

    Think what a rotten life it must be being them.

    Most of our customers are great. But once in a while, there's one of these jerks in the mix and it's so very draining. And of course usually it's hell ever getting paid by these clowns, which creates even more stress.

    Thanks to your blog and others like it, I opted to find another plan, and I'm nothing but glad.

    Thank you, Val


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