Dealing with ‘Problem Children’ clients

Everyone has at least one difficult client, or problem child. You generally know the type- they actually cost you more time, effort or profit than you can ever hope to recover from the other side. It may be that they were once a good client who due to financial difficulties or a change in personnel have fallen into the category, or it may be that they are a new client who are hyper-sensitive, always on the phone and very needy.

Do you really need them as clients?

Would the fact that they are ensuring that a fee earner is being kept busy justify the continued acceptance of instructions?

Would ceasing to accept their instruction breach client care regulations?

Careful thought must be given to these ‘problem children’ as it may be that taking the fee earner off the case and allocating them a role in obtaining new and better clients would be a better action plan. Remember, on assessment the judge dealing with the costs have generally been there, seen it all before and believe everything is simple so you may not recover the increased time spent with the client.

Early identification is vital to enable a plan to be put in place to either repair the relationship, improve the profitability or sever the ties.

There are no easy answers to this albeit we have some ideas, remedies and anecdotes, but doing nothing about problem clients is not an option as just like problem children, they generally only get worse unless action is taken.

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