How Attorneys Choose Clients

Over the years, I have also become much more selective in choosing which cases I handle.  When I first started practicing, I took virtually every case that came through my door, as most young lawyers do.  However, now that I am older (and hopefully wiser), I find that I probably reject as many cases as I accept.

These days, before I agree to take a case, I consider the following factors in determining if it will be a good fit with my practice:

  1. Are the facts/issues in this case interesting to me?
  2. Do I like the client and/or is this someone that I want to help?
  3. Are there any good reasons not to take the case?
  4. What impact will taking this case will have on my other cases?

One of the reasons that I practice family law is the wide variety of cases that I get to handle.  There are divorces, adoptions, child support cases, visitation disputes, mediations, etc., and the facts of each are different.  If I had to do something like real estate closings all day every day, I would very quickly lose my mind.  I mean nothing against attorneys that handle that type of work, but repetitious work does not interest me in the least.  I find that taking cases that are intellectually stimulating makes it enjoyable to come to the office every day.

In a family law practice, I get to interact with people from all walks of life — doctors, salesmen, CEOs, factory workers, retirees, and even other lawyers.  All potential clients bring their own unique characteristics with them, which can make a case more or less appealing to me.  I consider things such as the client’s personality, expectations, reasonableness, and need for my services.  I keep in mind that if I take the case, I will be spending a lot of time with that person, and therefore I am selective in the cases in which I choose to invest my time and energy.  Besides, I believe that having a "likable" client makes me want to give 110% to that persons case.

I also consider whether there are any good reasons that I should not take the potential client’s case.  For instance, if the client wants me to cut corners or engage in questionable actions, I will not accept the case — no matter how much the client wants to pay me to do so.  If someone is rude to my staff, I will decline the potential representation.  There are also a few attorneys with whom I prefer not to work, and I will often refuse to get involved in a case if they are involved on the other side.  I have found that it is simply not worth it to deal with certain attorneys’ shenanigans, but fortunately only a few people fall into that category.

Finally, I consider the effect that the potential case will have on my overall caseload.  For instance, I am often asked to handle a case in another part of the state.  I enjoy the opportunity to visit other areas of my state, but before I agree to accept such a case, I consider the amount of time that I will be required to be away from my office and my other cases.  When I am asked to get involved in a “high profile” case, such as one involving a politician or other local celebrity, I must consider the additional time that these cases require.

I am not claiming that these are the only ways to determine which cases to take, but I believe that these criteria work well for me.  I believe that letting potential clients know this information can benefit them in assessing whether I am the right attorney to handle their case.  I invite other attorneys to submit their client selection criteria and/or thoughts on these issues in the comments section below.

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