Monday, September 25, 2006

A client you can call a friend

Or maybe that should be EX friend.

Why friends and acqaintances do not make good clients

If a friend or acquaintance (worse still an old colleague) asks you to handle a case for them - take my advice gently tell them to take their business elsewhere. Dont fall foul of the "client you can call a friend"

This rant relates to PI claims in the main but you can apply the thought process to any legal sector.

Heres the scenario
The pal approaches you and says "Ive had a bump in my car - your an accident lawyer - please help"

You are indeed a lawyer - (cant really be arsed with an RTA but...) you think you know best and can help the poor guy.

He's guy you think like and you dont want to let him down, even though you dont know him too well. The last thing you want is him saying to people that you fobbed him off or worse still were clueless and couldnt help him "That guy knows shit....." etc

So you play the legal eagle and wax lyrical about his right to certain head of damage he never even knew about and already youve raised the bar of expectation. First mistake

But it looks a simple case and you think yep I'll walk thru this and take my predictable fee

Then you get your first bad vibe - the client is pushy and rings you twice a day every day. Now remember its a predictable fee Im getting here so that means there'as about £1250 ish to the firm and 30% to me. Not exactly a retirement fund, but still he's in your face twice a day asking the same things over and over - is he trying to trick me you wonder to see if I give a different answer? Or is he just being a "client you can call a friend"

Youre not sure but you are annoyed and slightly worried

Then liability is disputed - shit! Its like IVE denied negligence not some insurance claims monkey (see rant below) somehow its my fault that he was on a roundabout and that two cars bumped. I warned him of the risk of an issue but no - its down to me.

3 months later youve pulled it from the fire and got the full admission that the guy expected anyway. You didnt really work for it in his eyes - he damn well deserved it and your his pal so a 100% admission is the least he would expect. Remember - hes a "client you can call a friend"

Then we get to quantum - the supposedly fun bit of the job. Now because he's youre pal - he wants not just top dollar but a bit extra. After all I know him and so should use every trick in the book to get an EXTREMELY GOOD settlement. Well f*ck that, by now Im so pissed at him I just want rid because:

a) There's never been a damn thing wrong with him and to call this an injury claim is an insult to every decent insurance claim monkey out there

b) He's confirmed my initial view by now that he is a complete money grabbing, low paid, low grade plodder who never worked a minute past 5pm in his entire life

c) Remember im getting peanuts for a fee in this claim and like most honest grafters, time is money and when you record time that you know you aint going to see again you always feel flat and somehow cheated. But I cant whinge because its part of the job and remember - he's a "client you can call a friend"

Anyway you finally get to the end game - part 36's to and fro and then a stalemate. Now the pal thinks hey didnt you promise me that you would get me minimum £3k for the injury (that never was)? Well actually no I didnt but he'd checked on the web and spotted a daft figure for a two month whippy on a crap legal site and thats where he pitched his settlement.

His claim was worth £1250-1500 at a push but he wants £3000 and as "t' internet" said it was worth £3000 who was I to disagree.

He eventually settles for a sum in excess of my target (which was a good result) and reluctantly closes his claim. His parting shot was to ask how much of a wedge I got out of it - "no doubt double the compensation" the cheeky tw>t even asked for a cut of profit costs.

That was it for me - id held back long enough and despite inviting a possible complaint I let rip and called him a whingeing money grabbing low paid, low grade plodder who never worked a minute past 5pm in his life. Shove it pal.

I never got the complaint

But the lesson is - dont assume dealing with friends is going to be an easy ride. A "client you can call a friend" could be a client made in hell. A client who knows your friends and colleagues or god forbid your family. Delivering bad news to these people just isnt easy to do and the one thing in the legal world you cant always avoid - is bad news.

Next time refer them on to a colleague and tell them your on a project or secondment. You dont need the heat - trust me.


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