Many of the posts on Lawyerist focus on how to get good clients; we spend very little time talking about how to get rid of bad clients. As a general rule, the goal is to keep the clients around once they hire you. Nevertheless, for some clients, the lawyer’s advice should be limited to “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Running a successful law practice is all about getting clients. One way is by building a referral network, a frequent topic on Lawyerist. Another way is by advertising, such as in the yellow pages.
As traditional advertising methods wane, lawyers are getting excited by new methods of attracting clients through the internet. All those potential clients out there, yearning to find the lawyer of their dreams — all they need is a little encouragement. A little channelling. A system of connecting clients with lawyers. And lawyers will be eager to pay to have pre-screened clients sent their way – as long as they do not violate any ethics rules.
A family member or close friend calls you one day with a “quick” question. Seems she has a dispute with a neighbor or she just got denied a promotion or she needs to tell the renter of her duplex to stop smoking in his unit. She knows you are really busy but was wondering if you would mind looking into it or just writing a letter or making a phone call for her. She hates to bother you but she does not know any other attorneys and really needs some help with this problem.
As I surf around the blawgosphere, I have noticed that it seems to be in vogue for solo and small firm attorneys to take potshots at large law firms. If one read only the solo blawgs, it would seem all large law firms are lumbering, inefficient, selfish behemoths, so knocked off balance by this recession that they are about to keel over and smash their marble conference room tables. Then all the solo munchkins would come out of their hiding places in brightly colored garb, sing songs of freedom, and sign up all of the large firms’ former clients.
A few months ago, I posted a warning to lawyers about emailing clients at work. My concern was based in large part on a NJ district court decision that found an employee had waived the attorney-client privilege for emails that she sent to her attorney while using her work computer. Although the emails had been sent using a Yahoo! account, the employer found images of the emails on the employee’s hard drive.
For the most part, rude or obnoxious behavior between attorneys does not result in an ethics violation. But sometimes, lawyers can just go too far. An excerpt from the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Decision in In re Greenburg (May 5, 2009): “During the hearing, Mr. Greenburg suggested that…
To my own surprise, I’ve been using Twitter lately (“tweeting,” for those in the know). I say surprise because I really still don’t understand what all the fuss is about. But there’s an awful lot of fuss and I hate to be the last one to show up at a party. Since Sam encouraged people last week to use Twitter, I thought I’d share how I’m using Twitter so that maybe others will be persuaded to give it a try as well.
I’ll confess, I’m a threader. I have my mail program set so that when I respond to an e-mail, the previous posts become part of the new message. That way, after multiple exchanges with one person, I can keep just the most recent e-mail and delete all the earlier messages, leaving the entire thread intact in just one message.
But you started reading it anyway.
We’re all so inundated with disclaimers and license agreements at every turn that we barely flinch anymore when we see the words “privileged and confidential” or worse, long paragraphs in small fonts portending doom for the unwitting recipient of a misdirected e-mail or the surfer of law firm websites. Disclaimers seem to have spread like a consensual virus – a lawyer sees another lawyer using a disclaimer, figures it must be a good idea, and includes it in his or her own materials.
The following is a fictionalized account of a conversation between the plaintiff’s attorneys in Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Broussard, No. 2007-CA-01010-COA (Miss.Ct. App. Sept. 30, 2008), as reported at 24 Lawyers’ Manual 535 (Oct. 15, 2008).
Associate: You know that asbestos case we filed a couple of weeks ago?