What to Expect When You Are Expecting… Your Client to Kill You

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You have gone through years of school. You have built a career from nothing. You have worked hard to become a professional.  Your clientele probably has not. Especially for solo or small firm practitioners, clients can run the gamut from normal to certifiably insane.  Normally you would try to weed out the real creeps, but maybe it has been a bad month so you take on a questionable client.  Who knows? Maybe he really is an undercover CIA agent working towards a better tomorrow for you and your children.  Maybe there really is a conspiracy to keep him bogged down in the judicial process so he can’t accomplish the mission the President has assigned to him. 

There is one certainty, you better watch your step because one of two things are happening: (1) you are representing Jason Bourne and you are one walk through the train station away from getting snipered in the face; or (2) you are dealing with a crazy person. Luckily, the procedures on your end are the same.

How to Protect Yourself.

Never doubt him.

Either he’s a CIA agent or he’s not. Either way, you don’t want him to think you don’t believe him.  Either he’s going to think you are part of the made up conspiracy, or you are going to have a predator drone following you around town until some video gamer turned special agent lands a missile on your car. 

What’s the harm in playing along anyway? Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to cut a client call short with the old “this isn’t a secure line, I will reestablish communications when I feel it is safe,” line.

Play away games.

There’s no reason for this guy to know where your office is when you can take advantage of your local bar association’s offer to use their conference room.  Why give him the chance to leave you symbolic “I’m going to off you” gifts on your desk.  Not only do these presents take up precious space, but worrying about getting stabbed is a real productivity killer.

Be crazier than him.

My high school guidance counselor once gave me this advice, “whenever you feel like you are about to get in a fight, just act crazier than the other guy and they will always back down.”  So your client is mad at you and left a horse head in your office. Instead of just cleaning it up and going about your business being nervous all day, take some action to get this guy off your back.  Show him you’re even crazier by filling his house with balloons, or maybe next time he stops in your office it is wall-to-wall creepy clown paintings. Not only are you safe, but your employees will love the change of pace.

Be safe out there!

[photo: “Very scary crazy old man or senior psycho making face and threatening with an ax“]

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