He was an evil, despicable man.
I knew it the day I met him, which long before he was convicted of battery on a woman in a bar.
What kind of “battery” exactly?
Well, here’s what the Louisiana Court of Appeals wrote in its opinion…
“…and as she was lying on the floor on her back, defendant immediately took two steps and stomped on [her] face five or six times with the heel of his shoe.” See court opinion at pg. 5 (La. 1st Cir 2008) (emphasis added)
So, THAT kind of battery.
Not good, right?
No it wasn’t. Obviously.
Having Bad Clients Sucks
Yes this guy was evil.
And I could see that pretty much the entire time I represented him (even though he hadn’t stomped a woman in a bar back then).
I completely hated him from day one. And yet, I had to represent him.
Because I worked in a big firm and didn’t have my own clients. So whomever I was told to represent was who I had to represent.
The firm was supposedly picky about which clients they took on.
But as you can see they let a few clunkers slip in.
According to the firm, though, he wasn’t a clunker.
He was a “successful business man” who sent us steady stream of work.
Yep, you guessed it.
He was always in trouble because he couldn’t get along with anyone. So yeah, he was always in litigation.
Ding, ding, ding…cashflow galore!!!
He was a pain in the ass to deal with (go figure!).
And if we had to use him as a witness in trial? Oh boy.
Judges didn’t like him. Jurors didn’t trust him.
But opposing counsel loved him. Because cross examining him was like shooting fish in a barrel.
So he wasn’t a helpful witness. But he insisted on being allowed to testify, so we did.
Of course, when we lost the case it was never his fault.
Yeah, this guy was bad news from day one.
He paid his bills.
And never on time (of course).
So the firm kept doing work for him.
And unfortunately I was one of the poor schmucks that had to do the work.
But I learned a valuable lesson from my evil client (and the other clients who weren’t evil, but were still not enjoyable to work with)
When I went out on my own I resolved to NEVER represent anyone that I didn’t respect or enjoy working with.
Period. No exceptions.
Sure, it meant I couldn’t take just any client who walked in the door and was willing to pay.
But it was worth it because I kept my sanity.
And my integrity.
Moral of the story: When you take on crappy clients it’s debilitating on many levels.
So, don’t do that.
First of all, make sure you come up with a classification system for clients. (Here’s mine if you want to get an idea)
Then make sure you’re marketing to the ideal client you most want to serve.
Life’s too short to put up with assholes…
Even if they have lots of money, and will give you lots of business.
Okay, so what about the other end of the spectrum?
What about those clients that are such a joy to work with that you become close friends and look forward to helping them?
I call those kind of folks “dream clients.”
They’re hard to get, obviously. But it’s worth the effort.
And if you’re interested in learning how to do this…
Then check out my small group marketing workshop (that takes place in June).
I’ll warn you though: it’s not for everyone, so read the application page carefully.
And answer ALL the questions on the application form.
We don’t just take anyone who’s willing to give us money.
Can you guess why?
Of course, you can.
The Bottom Line…
Too many lawyers struggle to get a “cash flow friendly” stream of high-quality clients. The problem is they don’t know the vital elements of effective marketing.
Most solo & small firm lawyers have vague assumptions about how marketing works. This ignorance creates insidious dangers.
For example, when lawyers become too desperate for clients they tend to trust those they shouldn’t trust. People such as greedy consultants, or well-intentioned-but-clueless amateurs (i.e. “marketing morons“).
If you’ve been given bad marketing advice, or if you feel less than 100% certain how to market your practice effectively do NOT spend any more money on websites, consultants or advertisements.
And if you’re interested in learning more about how to market your firm in a tasteful and powerful way, check this out.