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An Opportunity for Hassle

When a door closes, a window opens. There is no word for crisis in Chinese, just danger plus opportunity. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. One man’s [insert bad thing here] is another man’s opportunity.

Screw this, I give up. The saying I’m actually going for is something to the effect of this: sometimes opportunities are better left un-seized. No good? Oh well, good thing I didn’t quit my day job to become an motivational speaker. I think I’ll just defer to Thomas Edison, who is rumored to have said something about how most people miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.

I’m writing this because after I wrote about a potential new client’s family asking a question that removed me from their list of potential new lawyers, I got a trackback to a post discussing how I’d missed an opportunity to educate and give context the client lacked. I read the post and left thinking the author, someone named David Ward who may or may not currently be a licensed attorney but who runs something called the Attorney Marketing Center, hadn’t read the post at Simple Justice through which he found mine.

Scott Greenfield’s post at Simple Justice ended with these words about the lawyer who may have gotten that client with questions aplenty:

And even he will end up ruing the day he answered these inane questions, because these are the clients from hell.

I don’t mind work, but as a lawyer, I like legal work. If an opportunity is wearing overalls and looks like legal work, I’m all for it. If it looks like endless hours of fielding questions that are unproductive and suggest months or years of potential conflict as the representation continues, I’d rather pass.

For all I know, I lost a great client. Or I may have narrowly dodged a lot of irritation. Scott hit the nail on head in his post by suggesting that every client isn’t the client a lawyer necessarily wants. If the relationship begins with an uphill battle, there’s an elevated likelihood that may be the case.

David’s post seemed to suggest that lawyers can just snag any client with a little education and ride off happily into the sunset with the fee in hand. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but I think that a lot of the time, an opportunity isn’t the right fit.

Sometimes, it’s just an opportunity for hassle.

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7 Responses to "An Opportunity for Hassle"

  1. [...] one of my posts, which resulted in a trackback. When I put up another post discussing his post, he commented on that one. Now, Avvo thinks my website is his website. Personally, I find it somewhat tragic and [...]

  2. Jamison says:

    Finally (I promise), having read the post from Mr. Ward, I’ll react to a statement he posted on the blog entry that was linked to:

    “As far as I know, only one prospective client interviewed me and chose not to hire me.”

    Sounds to me as if Mr. Ward has figured out how to tell potential clients exactly what they want to hear. How else can you explain such a fabulous success rate? And this is not a good thing.

  3. Jamison says:

    And now that I have seen David Ward’s comment, I will say this: Getting a new client signed up should be like dating. You don’t want to game the system. There are no magic questions or approaches. You don’t want to pretend to be anybody you are not. Any misunderstandings about who you are and what you can do can only lead to trouble.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      I agree with your comment but partially disagree with your dating analogy. If the goal is massive amounts of meaningless sex with strangers, gaming the system is a great thing to do. That’s why every loser guy has a bookshelf full of game books. If the goal is finding the right person and building the foundation for a long, happy relationship, you’re absolutely right. I’m just guessing that, based on the guys I know, the former is probably a lot more appealing to most men.

      1. Jamison says:

        You can tell I didn’t get around much as a younger man.

  4. Jamison says:

    I am with you on this one. And I don’t know what to think about an attorney whose approach to practice is to “earn more, work less.”

  5. David Ward says:

    Hey Matt, I never said you have to accept any and all clients. I’ve often declined representation of clients I didn’t like. I’ve “fired” clients, too.

    Questions are an opportunity for the attorney to reach out to the prospect and to distinguish themselves from other attorneys with bad answers or a bad attitude. But when those questions go too far, you have every right to say, “thanks but no thanks.”

    As far as I’m concerned, “clients from Hell” should go back where they came from.

    David Ward
    Attorney at Law
    The Attorney Marketing Center

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