Letting Go: When Clients Don't Work Out

It’s hard, but sometimes it’s okay when a client says goodbye. Guest Blogger Karen Thalacker discusses when the relationship doesn’t work out and how you can handle it with grace.



Some attorneys call it “parting ways.”  Some attorneys call it “irreconcilable differences.”  But most attorneys just call it “getting fired.”  The first time it doesn’t work out with a client in the middle of a case can be pretty difficult.

Here are 3 things to consider in this scenario:

  1. This can happen at any time in your career. Sometimes, it’s actually a relief. That being said, honestly evaluate what you could have done better and learn from the experience.
  2. Have a process in your office for how this sort of situation is handled. Make sure you put a respectful end to the relationship and give the client as smooth of a transition to the next attorney as possible.
  3. When you’re the next attorney, don’t disparage the first attorney. Professional courtesy is very important because you will be on both sides of this at some point in your career.

An attorney and a client have a special relationship and there are a thousand reasons why it might break down.  When it happens to you, handle it professionally and respectfully 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.