Why Did You Turn Down My Case?


My answer to the question above it this:

You say “another lawyer” referred you to me because I will be tougher than your former lawyer and protect your from your abusive and controlling ex. I asked you to file out three short forms; the contact information form, the “How did you locate me?” form, and the “How do you want me to keep you informed?” form.

It is a simple task, but my staff is trained to ascertain whether you have some limitation in reading or writing and in that case assist you in filling out the form yourself.

But in this instance, you arrived “with a chip on your shoulder”. By questioning why I should have your contact information “before I have decided to hire you?”, you signalled to me:

1. You will the the kind of client who will tell me how to do my job.

2. At the very least, you do not trust lawyers.

3. If my forms have offended you, perhaps you already do not trust me.

4. If you think I am going to misuse your contact information, you are assuming I may be unethical.

5. You do not follow instructions well.

6. And when I chatted a bit to reassure you, you “pissed me off”.

Thus, I politely sent you packing, huffing in a not quiet voice that you had “just wasted an hour”. At least you did not slam the door when you left.

My advice to you potential client who never became a client:

1. Next time, just fill out the damn forms!

2. If you have a personal referral to a lawyer with a reputation for honestly, integrity, and competence, (and aggressiveness) do not act like you are at “Joe’s Used Cars”. Treat him, his staff, and procedures respectfully.

3. Answer the questions he/she propounds.

4. Ask lots of polite questions.

5. Do what the lawyer says!

Instead of me,  you will now find someone you can bend to your will, and you will not be happy with the results. Sorry.

This post was written by Burton Hunter


  • Colin says:

    Mr. Hunter,

    Thank you for your perspective on this issue. I understand that attorneys must set boundaries and standards regarding representation, but do you not feel that it is reasonable for some potential clients to feel uneasy and distrustful when it comes to dealing with an attorney? Perhaps they have never retained an attorney before and believe the negative stories they’ve heard about us.

    Furthermore, attorneys are very much authority figures and some potential clients might feel uneasy and intimidated at the prospect of entering into the client/attorney relationship.

    I understand that the person discussed in this post may have went beyond mere distrust and displayed a level of rudeness and inability to cooperate that would necessitate showing them the door. You also seem to indicate, however, that an initial lack of trust is, by itself, grounds for ending the initial consultation.

    I don’t see why a potential client should automatically “assume” that we are all ethical and trustworthy professionals; many, many of us are, and many, many others are not. Furthermore, the person described in the post seems to be an abused woman, many of whom come from sad backgrounds in which they’ve had nobody they could trust in their lives.

    In any event, I enjoy reading your blogs and I apologize if I have misinterpreted this post in any way.


    A Young Lawyer

    • Dear Colin; your reply is long overdue. Sorry, it took awhile for me to get the hang of these comments, and by then, this question had slid past my view. I am re-writing/reviewing my blog articles in preparation of extracting 4-5 Kindle Books from 700 pages of content. You are absolutely correct that many potential clients do not trust lawyers. My article above was prompted by one particularly prickly and offensive person.
      It is not that I have too many clients; in fact, I have too few clients, in our small rural community, who can afford to pay fully what I must charge. I want new clients to like me, and I want them to hire me. But, I have persevered and taken on such clients before and learned that my instincts are sound and that I should not have. Certain personality types are very hard to represent properly. Better to find that out during the first interview. I suggest you test it yourself, and learn as I have. Take on that client what you just don’t “click” with, and see what happens. Trouble is, those are the ones who file ethics complaints, post bad online review, and bad mouth you all over town. I think you will end up agreeing with me, better to let them go to someone else. Perhaps their attitude will be bit better with the next lawyer, or perhaps they will just be a better fit. Regards, Burt

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