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:
- Are the facts/issues in this case interesting to me?
- Do I like the client and/or is this someone that I want to help?
- Are there any good reasons not to take the case?
- 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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