Lawyer Risk Management: Screening and Rejecting Potential Clients

Posted on: June 20, 2019 by Huntersure LLC.

Clients seeking out the right legal representation have a lot to consider, including reputation, price, and the lawyer’s track record of winning cases. But it’s just as important for the lawyer in question to be just as risk-averse when picking up a new client.

Risk management is most effective before the attorney-client relationship begins, as to avoid any controversies or disagreements along the way. While not every relationship goes along smoothly, avoiding taking on a client that comes with plenty of potential to be trouble is key.

Here’s how attorneys can screen and reject potential clients to avoid headaches during their representation process.

First Things First…Insurance

A lawyer professional liability insurance is an effective way for lawyers to operate with peace of mind if things get out of hand with their own client. It’s not unheard of for disagreements to take place, pitting client and attorney against each other. Clients may feel their attorney was negligent and will bring claims against them. No matter if the attorney is guilty or not, having lawyer professional liability insurance in place will help to protect them so reputation and finances stay intact.

Screening Clients

Lawyers can avoid many legal malpractice or negligence claims and fee disputes by identifying those clients who pose a greater risk of causing problems down the road and not taking them on as a client. High-risk clients can include those who are unreliable or dishonest in their communications or in their case. Even those who have unrealistic expectations should be avoided as they may be expecting you as the attorney to do too much.

Unrealistic Expectations

Speaking of unrealistic expectations, clients may have an idea of what they want to happen in a case but will be disgruntled if this doesn’t come to fruition just how they want it to. And they can take this out on you, the attorney, for not making it happen that way. Everything from monetary value to length of time of the case can be kicked back against the lawyer in a way that paints them in a negative way. This is why discussing what is realistic and what’s not during the consultation period is critical to avoid any issues.


If a client’s motive is such that no reasonable result will bring them satisfaction, you shouldn’t take them on as a client. If someone wants to hire you as a lawyer to help them exact revenge or jealousy on a plaintiff you don’t want to be part of it. If the lawyer in question cannot get the prospective client to acknowledge that their intentions aren’t well-meaning then it’s bets to avoid them altogether.

Declining Representation

When a lawyer declines to accept a legal matter, he or she should be careful to not give any legal advice or opinion regarding the client’s claim. Any advice can provide a basis for a surprise malpractice claim down the road, especially if the advice turns out to backfire.

Lawyers can send a letter in writing or an official email explaining their decision to not take on a client. This is an opportunity to explain in detail why they were not chosen and an opportunity to be honest and upfront. “Non-engagement letters” should clearly inform the client that the firm will not represent their case and that he or she should not rely on the lawyer or firm for any advice or legal action at any time.

About Huntersure

At Huntersure, we specialize in providing quality professional liability solutions to accounting professionals. Our Accountant Liability Insurance program provides coverage for accountants, auditors, bookkeepers, and tax preparers, so no matter where your clients lie in the industry they can have the coverage they need to protect themselves and their assets. To learn more about our operation and our Professional Liability Insurance solutions, contact us today at (855) 585-6255.

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