What’s the fastest way to have an unhappy client? Charge too much? Not return calls? No, the fastest way to have an unhappy client is to represent them for FREE.
What? We all love stuff that is FREE! This is true in a lot of instances, but in professional services it is decidedly not. Legal representation is different from giving someone a free box of donuts. Most of the time the legal services needed are important and have risk associated. Typically the person seeking assistance has contributed to the predicament that they are in. You, as the attorney, think you are doing them a favor, but are you?
Certainly there are circumstances of appreciated and gratifying Pro Bono work. In Mississippi attorneys are required to work at least 20 hours per year on Pro Bono matters, but the client does not get to decide.
It seems that clients getting something for nothing are more demanding, are more suspicious and are more prone to complain. This is because the typical arms length transaction, which provides for the exchange of compensation for services, when not used creates an imbalance.
- The FREE client is more suspicious because they wonder how good a job the attorney is doing.
- The FREE client is more demanding because they have to get all that they can for free because they know it will end soon.
- The FREE client complains more because they do not have to refuse to pay and wonder what that attorney is going to do about it.
- This is not intended to disparage Pro Bono clients and their cases, but rather to warn attorneys and other professionals to be careful when taking on FREE representation.
Beware of FREE representation and to the clients seeking a free attorney, sometimes…you get what you pay for.
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