Warning Signs of a Difficult Client

There are some general indicators that you may be dealing with an individual who is, or may become, a difficult client. A few examples include:

  • a client who has gone through a number of lawyers and has not been satisfied with any of them;
  • a client who demands that his or her work take priority over all your other clients' work;
  • a client who makes unrealistic demands of you, your staff, or both;
  • a client who has unpaid accounts with other lawyers; and
  • a client who has unrealistic demands regarding what may be achievable.

A difficult client may also be a fraud artist. If a client is making demands that push you out of your comfort or competence zone, you need to assert control over the relationship. Remain cognizant of your professional obligations as articulated in the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society Rules, and the BC Code. Think about what the client is asking you to do, and assess whether the client's conduct (coupled with the request) is an indicator of fraud.