Why We Turn Down Clients
It’s true that we are in the business of providing legal advice and services and representing our clients, but there are many times when we just can’t accept a particular case. This seems to be happening a lot lately and this is a good opportunity for us to describe some of those situations for you.
Most of our new clients come to us through a referral from an existing client or from their own lawyer or CPA who has recommended that they speak with us. The fact that the relationship is based on a mutual, trusted source, certainly smoothes the process. We have to perform our own level of due diligence on every prospective client and a referral from a mutual source gives both sides an early and additional level of comfort. In every sense, finding an attorney or, for that matter, a physician, an architect or any professional through a recommendation from a friend or advisor is always the best idea.
Some new clients contact us initially after visiting our website and spending some time reading the information presented and the articles and perhaps the latest version of the book which is available. Many prospective clients call us directly or send us an email describing their circumstances and what they would like our firm to help them accomplish, I read each of these emails very carefully and try to reply with our suggestions as quickly as possible.
Based on our understanding of the prospective client’s circumstances or goals, we may not be able to offer advice or schedule a telephone consultation or a personal meeting with everyone who requests it. It’s our policy not to charge a fee for an initial consultation and that leads to many requests for telephone calls or meetings. Sometimes, based on the information in the email or from what we learn on the phone, we find that we can’t or won’t be able to accept that individual as a client.
For instance, due to the difficult economic times, many of those who contact us are involved in a lawsuit or have large debts that they would like to avoid. In these situations there is little or nothing that we or any other legitimate attorney can do. Negotiations with the creditor or bankruptcy planning may be appropriate but those are not services we provide.
For asset protection planning, the law is very clear that transferring property or taking steps to defraud a creditor is a civil and possibly a criminal offense. Often the facts in these cases are heartbreaking, unexpected medical bills or simply bad luck or a bad economy, has resulted in bills or loans that the individual can’t reasonably pay off. Although we are sympathetic in these situations, there is often no helpful asset protection solution that we can recommend.
In other cases we are not so sympathetic. Sometimes, we receive a call or email from an individual involved in questionable or clearly improper business dealings or behavior. These contacts are not from existing clients but are usually from those who have seen the website and would like a telephone call or a meeting to discuss activity that we consider unethical or disreputable in some fashion.
Asset protection and privacy are appropriate and legitimate strategies for minimizing liability risk and we are happy to represent clients in a wide variety of circumstances. However, asset protection planning and privacy strategies cannot be used to evade taxes, launder money or facilitate fraudulent or criminal conduct. Although communications directly with prospective clients are covered by the attorney-client privilege, if it becomes clear to me that an individual is intending illicit activities, I terminate the call or the meeting either politely or sometimes even not so politely. In these cases, I am not willing or able to offer legal advice and needless to say, I’m not going to schedule a meeting, paid or otherwise, to discuss the matter further.
If you are visiting the website and would like to discuss your legal situation, we will do our best to respond helpfully and we will let you know promptly, based on the information you provide, whether we can advise you on the matter. For those cases we can accept, a free initial telephone call or meeting may be appropriate. If we cannot help you for one reason or another, we will let you know that too. The relationship between an attorney and a client are based on reasonable expectations, trust and mutual respect and we do our best to uphold those standards in every professional relationship.