|Think they'd get the message if I sent some of these?|
A matter I have been doing a little bit of work on has made me question this approach. Our client is a neutral third party in a case that can only be described as a ridiculous waste of money. The claimant company has launched a side attack to the main application that is literally impossible. Not only has it no proof, the people it has issued against are not sufficiently senior in the defendant corporation to carry any responsibility even if they had done the acts in question. Despite this, the claimant has not only has accused and issued in court but is refusing to settle. To top it off, all of the evidence showing the claim to be nothing but spurious was submitted to court in the main claim and circulated to all parties. The solicitors acting for the claimant really dropped the ball on this one. Or did they?
Having read the correspondence there is a definite sense of reluctance on the solicitors part, as if they were pursuing the claim half-heartedly, hoping we would give in to save costs. Almost as if they knew it was ridiculous but had to go along with it anyway. The company is a big company, no doubt their solicitors act for them in a general way, not just for disputes. A major client. Telling a big, money spinning client the claim won't stick might seem like bad client relations. The client is unlikely to be happy about it short term. Maybe the retainer is coming up for review. Perhaps there are is a large amount of WIP to be billed and the solicitors want to keep them sweet. Maybe the client is a bit of a bulldozer.
Whatever the difficulty, all they should have said is NO. A solicitor does his client no favours by running up fees on all sides and exposing their client to a potential costs order. It might keep the client on side in the short term but when it all back fires down the road do you think the relationship will be a good one? A lawyer should act with the best interests of the client in mind and that includes telling them when they're wrong. Good business men value a truthful advisor more than one that simply does what he is told. Ultimately your client will realise when you play the yes man. That is not what he is paying you for.
So I am not going to listen to the 'never say no' strategy marketing has been dishing out. A blanket yes approach is not what I would want from a solicitor and I bet it's not what the clients expect. I will be giving honest advise, especially when I need to say no and hope that my clients realise the value in this approach. It is more likely to generate respect and a good client relationship than pandering to needs.
It is also worth remembering the clients that aren't happy are the ones who are likely to turn nasty. After all, after the claimant in my case has a giant costs order awarded against him, who do you think he will be suing to foot the bill? The solicitors who didn't stop him look like they might have a target on their chests........