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Three Key Questions You Should Ask Every Potential Client Before You Agree to Represent Them

by Reba Nance on September 8, 2015

3_keysClient intake sounds pretty simple. Meet with the client, get their contact info, discuss the particulars of their case and how you can help them, ascertain their ability to pay and agree on the terms of your representation. That’s it, right? Actually, there are three outside-the-box questions you should consider asking. The answers could mean the difference between a successful representation and your worst nightmare.

Here are the three questions:

  1. In a perfect world, what would the ideal outcome be for you?
    The answer to this question alone could be a deal breaker. If you are representing a potential client in a personal injury case, it is critical to know if their expectations are out line. If you believe the case is worth somewhere around $300,000, but they tell you they want $2,000,000, there’s clearly a problem. You could do absolutely everything right in your representation, but the client is never going to be happy.
  2. What would be the worst outcome?
    The answer can cut both ways. If you think their idea of the worst outcome is very possible (or even probable), now is the time to discuss it. If the likelihood of their worst outcome is remote, this can count in your favor.
  3. What information might come out that you’re worried about, or that you’d rather not be known?
    A Denver lawyer once told me he was representing a woman in a child custody case. They were in court when opposing counsel asks her “isn’t it true that you were working for an outcall massage company last year?” My lawyer friend was completely taken aback. When he finally got his client alone, he asked her “why didn’t you tell me this?” Her answer? “You didn’t ask me, and I didn’t think anyone would find out.” He told me he went back to his office at the end of the day and revised the questions on his client intake sheet!

Feel free to contact me with questions at reban@cobar.org.

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