When Clients Misbehave

Sometimes clients behave in ways that are not in their own interests. They can turn a winnable case into a virtually certain loser.


Been there, done that - more than a few times, on both sides of the v.


As a lawyer, you explain, cajole and persuade. Usually, such efforts work on the errant client, albeit begrudgingly at times.


Not always, however.


When you face such situations, your options are not appealing.


You can withdraw. Yet, doing so is frequently not good for the client. As a practical matter, it often means that the client will just end up losing the case unnecessarily. Ultimately, their interests are not well-served.


Sometimes, you have to force the client to make a difficult choice. In essence, you give them an ultimatum - and it can get kind of ugly. You know they are going to be unhappy and certain to be mad at you. Yet, in doing so, you are trying to protect them from their own plainly bad judgment. In pop culture terms, you might call this “tough love.”


The client has the ultimate authority, of course, so as a lawyer you can find yourself in very murky gray areas.


You do what is best for the client. Always. That general rule is easy. The details are unfortunately not - often as clear as mud and frequently counterintuitive.


Dealing with miscreant clients is part and parcel of being a trial lawyer. It’s stressful and definitely unfun. However, it goes with the territory.