The New Client?

The New Client?

The call elicits instant chest swelling. It's a prospective client who has been treated very badly by one of my professional rivals at another firm. "I should have gone with my instincts and picked you in the first place," the caller intones. What a great opportunity! Snatching a lucrative client from a rival. All the more sweet.
Or is it? Sure you are in a rivalry with the other lawyer. You do think you are better. But you know, if you'll let yourself admit it, that this other lawyer is a pretty fine professional herself. Maybe not up to your lofty standards, but certainly a worthy rival. And one not likely to leave clients disgruntled.
So you may proceed to take on the new matter. But instead of making the reason for the opportunity generate extra enthusiasm for the engagement, exactly the opposite should occur. If possible, secure client permission to talk to predecessor counsel. If that permission is denied, your guard should be raised even more. In either event, a full explanation of the reason for the change, the history of the engagement, and the nature of what remains to be done plus a demand for a very large retainer should all precede every agreement to take on the matter.
This is because although many clients do switch lawyers for totally legitimate reasons, some may be involved in questionable conduct. Even if this is not the case, far too many who switch can never be satisfied, will become disgruntled with you after a while, and will put you on the end of a call from your successor counsel long before the matter is concluded.
Excerpt from Red Flags: A Lawyer's Handbook on Legal Ethics.