As I've gone through the years as a lawyer, there are things I have learned to deal with. I understand people "shop" for the cheapest lawyer, and no matter the qualifications and experience of any particular lawyer, the client looking for the cheapest lawyer, is only interested in hearing a fee that matches what's in the wallet.
I also have been able to judge pretty well the buzz phrases that used to mean something different when I was starting out as a young lawyer. Phrases like "money is not an issue," translated: "I have no money," or "I think this is a good case for you," translated: "I have no money but want you to think my case will make you famous." Then there's "I'll call you back," translated: "I won't ever call you back." There's also: "no matter what happens, you've done a great job," translated: "we better win."
And rearing it's ugly head recently (probably due to the economy):
"I'm not sure I even want to hire a lawyer for this. I think it may make me look (bad, guilty, like I'm trying to hide something.)"
Every lawyer who represents alleged criminals or anyone in trouble gets these questions. When I was starting out, I would entertain this notion to the point where it appeared I was almost begging the client to change his mind.
But recently I've received this question with increased frequency, and so along with my policies of no free consultations, no extended payment plans, no clients I think are nightmares, no rescheduling missed initial consultations (no, seriously, I.... don't), I.......
will no longer entertain this question.
My job is to represent my clients. My job is not to spend that time reassuring the client that the concept of even having a lawyer is something they should embrace. It's a waste of my time. If you don't think you want a lawyer for your problem, don't hire one, don't let one convince you otherwise, just go with your gut.
Just like when you make a dinner reservation, go to a restaurant, and when the waiter comes over ask: "I don't think I want to be here and eat food, what should I do?"
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.