Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Client - Enemy or Best Friend?

(pix credits here)

Recalling the words of my earliest boss,
"the client is your worst enemy" he would warn me, emphasising enemy. Then he would illustrate with examples of the client turning on us, backstabbing, complaining, even suing us for things going wrong later on.
At some level, I did understand that clients could be capable of making our lives as lawyers pretty darn miserable, not to mention, be the source of all kinds of danger, from petty complaints to negligence lawsuits.

On the other hand, can one regard this fee paying client as one's best friend? That wouldn't be correct either, since professionalism carries with it, as I have learned the hard way, a certain distance and also, well, from a more practical point of view, clients are more often than not nasty rather than nice, demanding rather than understanding. Not exactly the best place to breed anything more than courtesy

For me, it is hard to reconcile the concept of the client being one's worst enemy with his being the person paying the (legal) fees and doing one's best for this enemy. To begin with this starting block would create unnecessary stress and worry. There is a middle ground between enemy and best friend which I am finding day by day. I found instead that one regards clients as people to whom a duty is owed and whose expectations need to be managed (i.e. reality checks need to be given where necessary, the last I know, I didn't have a magic wand ready to grant all the heart's desires). That detachment is part of making better judgment calls and I dare say, an improved level of service.

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