Ensuring a Client is a Good Fit

Ensuring that a client is going to be a good fit for you is important.  You should not accept every opportunity that comes your way, even if you are first starting out.  One of the most important questions is whether the client is going to pay your bills.  Many more people want legal services than are willing or able to pay for them.  There are a variety of ways to try to gauge whether a potential client is a potential paying client – one item is to ask for a reasonable but substantial retainer up front, and see how the client responds.  If you get pushback on a retainer that represents only ten hours of your time, you might interpret that as a red flag.

You also want to avoid situations where a client is likely or certain to be unhappy with your work.  This can arise when a client has unrealistic expectations about what you can accomplish or what the engagement is going to cost.  I recently declined an engagement where there was only $15,000 at issue. I felt that it was very likely that I was going to have to charge at least the amount or more, and after several conversations, I did not think that the potential client recognized that reality, and that she was going to be unhappy with the outcome of the engagement.  Even if she paid the bill (and I thought it was likely that she would not), you don’t want an unhappy client or former client