Whether a long-term client departs, or you fail to win a new client, the situation doesn’t have to be a complete loss. You can gain valuable information from the experience. Don’t just shrug it off, find out why you lost the client, and do something about it.

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton has a piece on Attorney at Work that gives a few suggestions on how to handle such a downer:

  1. First, calm down, and if necessary, vent with a friend. Then "go for a punishing run" or whatever;
  2. Ask the client or prospective client why they chose another firm. Don’t be defensive, and ask in a way that doesn’t put the client on the defensive either. Rather seek to find out what you could have done better to retain client or to have won the competition;
  3. In the case of the client leaving, ask a friend for their honest opinion on the reason given. Also ask for suggestions or their thoughts on what they would have done;
  4. Assess what you could have done differently (seeking client feedback earlier is one thing that comes to mind), and those “[a]ctions that need to be taken ;” and
  5. Put any necessary changes in place to ensure that similar mistakes are not repeated.

Additionally, keep channels of communication open with former clients and prospects, because it is entirely possible that the client may not end up being satisfied with their choice. In which case the client may return to the fold at a future date.