In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York solo lawyer Joleena Louis shares how she improved her practice after being fired by a client.
This week I was fired by a client and I felt……relieved. Honestly!
We were not seeing eye to eye and they had very unrealistic views of the potential outcome of the case, despite my many very very direct warnings. I was putting off withdrawing from the case, but I’m glad he made the decision first.
Being fired by my own clients happened to me often, but I’ve definitely learned a few lessons from the experience. Here’s my advice for how to deal with being fired by a client:
Accept the Loss
In this particular case, I wasn’t offended at all since I didn’t think the relationship was working either. But I can see how I could be more troubled by if the relationship was with a client that I thought I had a great connection with.
Instead of dwelling on the loss, I chose to move on and focus on getting more clients. Relationships evolve, client’s needs change and it’s just something you have to get used to when running a practice. If you sit there and dwell on the loss then you’re not doing yourself or your firm any favors.
Do a Post- Analysis
I also took this opportunity to review what went wrong in the attorney-client relationship.
Since this was a previous client, I didn’t dig as hard as I normally would about their true intentions for going forward with this matter. If I would have asked my normal questions, I would not have accepted the case in the first place.
Lesson learned: treat the intake of a new matter with an old client the same way you would if it was a brand new client.
Have the File Ready To Go
My office is (mostly) paperless, so it was super easy to get the file to the new attorney. No giant boxes or scheduling pickups.
The easier it is to pass the matter to the new attorney, the quicker it is for you to move forward.
Ask for Feedback
After wishing them well and apologizing for things not working out, I asked the client for feedback. The client was happy that I wasn’t mad and gave honest feedback about what went wrong. We agreed that we just weren’t a good match and things ended on pretty good terms.
Asking for feedback from a client who fired me felt a bit daunting and I was a little nervous, but I’m definitely glad I did. I felt better ending on good terms and at least I found out exactly what wasn’t working from their perspective. Plus now I am better prepared to avoid this situation in the future with other clients.
Losing a client can be frustrating, but if handled well it can turn out to be the best thing for your practice and for your sanity.