Let’s address the fact that not all inquiries or interviews result in a retainer. Almost as important as having a proper retainer agreement in place when you commence a new solicitor-client relationship, is ensuring and confirming the lack of a retainer when you decide to decline a new solicitor-client relationship.
Not every potential client is a good client and you should not be fearful of rejecting a client. Doing so may save you the stress of a difficult client, minimize fee collection issues, avoid malpractice claims, and even improve morale in your office. A client who is difficult for you, is generally also difficult for your staff.
Sometimes you will decline a client relationship for ethical reasons, such as:
Other times, different considerations will take precedence. Red flags might include that the potential client:
Trust your judgment about potential clients and act accordingly.
If you decide not to represent a prospective client, send a non-engagement letter. The purpose of a non-engagement letter is to dispel any notion in the mind of the prospective client that you represent him or her. In the non-engagement letter:
Retain a copy of the non-engagement letter on your file and ensure that you have entered the relevant information in your conflict-checking system.
We’ll cover more information on dealing with challenging clients in the Difficult Clients module.