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Sometimes You Have to Say No

Like many plaintiffs' firms, we get a lot of intake traffic.

That's a good thing and I am happy for it.

Here's reality: I can't be personally involved with every perspective client who contacts us. In fact, I avoid doing so because I just don't have enough hours in the day. My colleagues are really good, however.

All day long I catch snippets of telephone conversations with potential clients. Rarely do I hear anything that gives me even a smidgen of concern. Almost all of these conversations seem polite and respectful - and often the tone is quite kind.

Most people who contact us are patient and understanding.

Except those who are not.

There are a few who insist that they must speak personally with "Mr. Rawls." Some will call my direct dial and then my cell. Repeatedly. We've had a few who get really ugly and threatening.

I've had some interesting voicemails.

Recently, there was one who emphatically informed me that I needed to personally assess his case and he would only talk with me. He wanted nothing more to do with my "helpers." This was after he had been repeatedly rude to those "helpers." On the other hand, his case looked like it could be a viable one.

Guess what?

Being nasty with my staff is a good reason NOT to take a case, even one that appears to have some strength. Demanding that I "personally" do whatever doesn't help either.

We passed on the case mentioned above.

If someone misbehaves at the initial stage, it's almost certain that that sort of behavior will not only continue, it will get worse as the case progresses. Many of these characters seem to have a misbegotten sense of entitlement.

None of us want to deal with it.

I understand that people are often going through a hard time. We try to be understanding. However, we are doing no one any favor taking on clients where it is absolutely predictable that they will end up being a pain - and probably not listen to our advice anyway.

Toxic clients, even ones with good cases, are just not worth it.

Learn to say no.


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