Sunday, March 22, 2009
Trust your gut when choosing clients
My Spider Sense is Tingling..... Do you ever get a funny feeling about that particular client that walks in? A few years ago I read an article by attorney Norm Pattis where he discussed something he called the "Heebie Geebie Test". It was basically a discussion of that "spider sense" tingling that lawyers get telling them that the prospective client sitting across from their desk is well...maybe a little nuts. The word of advice given was to follow your instinct. If something doesn't seem right, it will not bode well for you to take the case. As a freshly minted attorney, I was under the mindset that this was hogwash advice. If a client was willing to pay, how hard would it be to deal with the occasional Napolean complex. I have since seen the error of my ways. You will surely spend more time dealing with unreasonable demands. Time that could better be spent on your more serious workload. I have had experienced the phenomenon of the heebie geebies. Against my better judgment, I took on a few interesting matters. One divorcing fellow demanded lifetime alimony from his wife after a two year marriage. He told me that if I couldn't make it happen, he would tell my father. Luckily, I was not grounded. After making the mistake of acting cordially with a judge and opposing counsel on another matter, another curmudgeon demanded an investigation convinced that his wife had bribed everyone from the property appraiser to my secretary. He mentioned he would be writing to White House to demand an investigation. So far, no word from President Obama. I am sure most attorneys get their share of interesting potential clients. My personal favorites are a woman who asked for child support for her 46 year old son, the guy who wanted to legally change his name to a popular beer in order to sue the beer company for what he called "name infringement", and the guy who wanted to sue a deli for 300,000 because the sausage he purchased did not taste the same as in the old country. They were easy to spot. But sometimes, a client can slip under the radar. They seem normal. It sounds like a good case. Just take care. Look for the clues. If the client has been to 7 or 8 attorneys before you, if he tells you he has a surefire case, if the guy is wearing a hat made out of aluminum foil and keeps looking at the sky....do yourself a favor. Take a moment before you accept the case.
Posted 7:44 PM