This is a topic I have addressed before, but is worth repeating. Your firm would be better off firing bad clients. Your time would be better spent focusing your law firm marketing efforts on landing the clients you want, and the type of work you want to do. Sure, you may take a hit financially in the short term, but you will be a lot happier over the long haul.

According to Pam Newman, “Financial Management” columnist for in an article entitled “Fire Your Bad Clients,” there are five type of clients that need to go:

  • Focus drainers (the wrong clients in terms of your core business, or targeted service sectors),
  • Low-profitability clients (here I might take issue, since in our business it is not always about money (i.e., with pro bono obligations and all), but, of course, one must pay attention to profitability unless they’re a charitable organization),
  • Complainers (those who complain about your work, your staff, your fees; and just don’t appreciate what you do for them),
  • “Something for nothing” clients (those who don’t value your services, complain about your fees, and generally are slow in paying reasonable fees), and
  • Time wasters (this type doesn’t listen to your advice, and/or take up too much of your time unjustifiably).

Other than ridding the firm of these problem clients for their own sake, a more compelling reason for law firms to divest themselves of these headaches is because things could get worse. They could easily become the source of malpractice claims (real or imagined). That is, since by nature everyone tries to shun pain, the situation may arise where, in an attempt to avoid dealing with such clients, their matter might be overlooked or possibly not dealt with as it should. That could lead to real trouble. Further, bad clients may bring a claim just for the hell of it, or to avoid paying their bills. You are better off without them.