Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What clients will do never ceases to amaze me...

So I was referred a client right before Christmas. I had been working on another case for another attorney and had some client interaction. They liked me. They referred me this person.

The client in question had been evicted from his home on a pretext almost three years ago. It had just been discovered that the landlord had been lying (there is no other way to describe what they said). With the statute limitations literally days away, this guy needed an attorney. Fortunately, I could complete the necessary investigation in time to make sure that he actually did have a cause of action.

And then I signed this person up as a client. I told this person from the begining that for this type of case, I would only take it on a contingent basis. Doing it on an hourly fee retainer would make no sense and based on this person's economic situation, it would put me in a position where I woiuld constantly be asking this person to replenish the retainer. The person agreed. I sent the retainer agreement down to him.

The client signed it a few days later, after looking it over. The client sent it back to me. And proceeded to do the leg work and research necessary to put together a complaint.

Over Christmas.

With the client calling at odd hours.

Now the odd hours thing would be bad enough, but this case I believed, had a value worth the hassel.

And then the client starts complaining about provisions in the retainer agreement. Provisions taken from the model bar retainer agreements and the ones in the Rutter Guides. Provisions I am lead to believe are standard in virtually every other plaintiff's attorney's contingency retainer agreement.

So, in order to calm the client's fears, I agree to execute a new retainer agreement. One which takes care of this person's concerns, yet still protects me. I send it to this person, and wait.

And today, the client sends me an email. In it, the client states that they did not realize what they were getting in to with regards to a contingency agreement. They also thought that I would work for an absurdley low hourly rate. A rate which I never quoted this person.

All I can say is, I told this person up front how I worked. I got their approval at every step of the way. I was responsive. I was honest about my abilities, what I thought was appropriate for the case, and what I thought I could offer him in terms of service. And in the letter this person just sent me, they completely ignored all of it and created a fantasy where this person claims that they were never told any of it. (Glad now that I am a pack rat, since I kept notes of the original conversation.)

And now, I have to ship this person their file. And give up their case. Because this person cannot get it through their head that I am not trying to cheat them.

My wife says that I should wish this person well. Well, like Captain Reynolds, I'm just not that good a person.

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