Difficult Clients in Difficult Times



We’ve all had difficult clients. In the best of times, they can be a challenge but in the times we’re living in right now they can be even more unpleasant.

Here are 3 suggestions for dealing with difficult clients in difficult times.

  1. Before speaking with them, have a plan. Know what you need to accomplish with your communication and try to keep the client focused on whatever issue needs to be discussed.
  2. Be an active listener. Make sure the client knows you are hearing what their concerns are.
  3. Instead of focusing on what makes this client difficult, find something about them you admire or like. For example, I’ve said to a client, “I really admire your fighting spirit.” Re-framing that person’s behavior in your own mind can help.

Client control is one of the most challenging parts of being a lawyer and certain clients test your skills more than ever. Don’t make the mistake of procrastinating when it comes to these clients. You’ll be happier and they will be happier if you deal with their issue and move on.


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Karen is a graduate of Wartburg College in Waverly, IA, and Drake University Law School in Des Moines, IA. She began her legal career as a prosecutor before entering private practice. For over 20 years, her practice has focused on family law and general practice. Karen is trained in Collaborative Law and also acts as a parenting coordinator for high conflict parents. Since 2009, Karen has served as a judicial magistrate in Iowa. She is also the Chief Compliance Officer and pre-law advisor at Wartburg College. Karen is the author of “The New Lawyer’s Handbook: 101 Things They Don’t Teach You in Law School” and also two knitting books for children. Her commentaries and guest opinions have appeared in the Huffington Post and the Des Moines Register. She and her husband Pete have 4 children.