Your clients bring in money to your law practice. You’re always looking to attract new clients. However, some clients are difficult and hard to work with for various reasons. This is one of the reasons you screen your clients. Other reasons include minimizing conflict of interest, cases that may not fit your practice, and people who may have an issue paying your retainer or using a monthly payment plan. Read the following 4 questions you should ask yourself when screening potential clients.
Has the Client Hired a Lawyer Before?
You need to find out if your potential client has ever used a lawyer before for any reason. If they have, they may be used to working with one and know what to expect. If they haven’t, you’ll know you need to spend a little extra time walking them through the process of how to work with you. As you can see, this question is designed to help you determine how much time you may need to spend during the intake process explaining the basics of what they should expect.
If your potential client has hired a lawyer before, it’s important to find out who, when, and for what. Find out if they have shopped around. Find out if they have changed lawyers. Ask the potential client what happened if they are changing lawyers. Maybe their expectations were too high or maybe the lawyer and the client simply couldn’t get along. Even if their case is a good one, it may not be worth it if the client is overly difficult or has unreal expectations.
Is This Case Right for Your Practice?
Does the case focus fit your practice areas? Do you have the experience and the support staff you need to provide the best representation? Cases take time which sends money to your practice. However, there is such a thing as too big of a case for solo practices. For example, a case could take up so much time that you’re left unable to take on other cases until it’s finished. It could also be too big for your practice to handle on its own. Consider this carefully. You don’t want to become unable to address the concerns of all of your clients over one case.
Who is the Other Party and Who is Their Lawyer?
Your potential client’s adversary will most likely hire a lawyer as well. If they already have, it’s important to find out who their lawyer is for many reasons. Of course, the main reason is so you know to whom you should address correspondence or send copies of pleadings. Additionally, you will know if the other lawyer is easy or difficult to work with.
It’s important to find out who the other party is as well. It could be anyone. An ex-business partner, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a contractor or employee, or a stranger to the potential client or even to you or someone on your staff. In the instance that it is someone you know, you’ve represented, or somehow has a connection to your office, you may not be able to take the case. That brings us to the next question.
Is There a Conflict of Interest?
When you first talk with a potential client, it’s important to check their name and their adversary’s name to be sure there isn’t a conflict of interest. If you don’t check both party’s information immediately, you might not find out until later. Make sure to check prior last names and aliases if you are dealing with cases such as divorce.
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