Giving the pink slip . . . to a client

Attorneys need to get and keep quality, paying clients to stay in business.  An attorney without any clients is unemployed, the same as if he lost a job working for a company.  The competition for clients can be intense, particularly in an area where I live that has over 7,000 licensed attorneys in the county.

It is against this backdrop that I tell you I had to fire (give the pink slip to) a client for the first time recently.  This was a quality, paying client.  It was a client I had worked with for nearly six years. I do not have another client of this size ready to move in.  I have lost clients and had clients that simply didn’t call me any longer.  However, until now I have never made the decision to fire a client who wanted to continue to work with me.

Why did I fire the client?  The costs of continuing the relationship (financial, emotional, psychological) outweighed the benefits of continuing the relationship, such benefits being primarily financial.

This decision didn’t come easily.  I made it after months of thinking, analyzing and praying about it.  What I realized was if I do not exercise some discretion over who I represent, I have eliminated the benefits of being self-employed.  Along those lines, the toll that working on this client relationship takes on me detracts from other work and finding new clients.

I do not relish this situation nor do I take it lightly.  One of my primary concerns is making certain that the client is able to transition to another attorney, to which it is better suited, with a minimum of difficulty.  I don’t think so highly of myself to believe I the am only one who can represent this client.

Am I crazy to cast away a client who is quality people, pays regularly and provides a decent amount of work?




Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."