Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Four Gambling Traps to Avoid With Clients

gambling traps to avoidKnowing which clients to accept and which to turn away can be difficult.

Sometimes we let our hearts rule our heads. We see the red flags but say yes anyway. We get greedy, or else we want to help this poor person. It’s why we went to law school, after all.

Other times we simply guess wrong. We think things will go a certain way – based on our skill, experience and best projections – and they don’t.

A lawyer I know has a good system. He created a checklist that has to be completed before accepting a new matter. The checklist contains various red flags, such as: “client has hired and fired at least one prior lawyer” or “statute of limitations expires soon.”

If more than two items are checked, the case is turned down. No questions asked. The checklist removes emotion from the equation. It creates a layer of caution in the selection process.

Client Selection is a Gamble

No system is foolproof. Every case is a gamble, and even the best client screening procedure will let in the occasional clunker.

You can improve your odds by identifying – and steering clear of – these common gambling traps:

  • The long-shot bet. You know the case is a long shot. But if it does work out, the payoff could be big. Risk management assessment: Fine, but don’t bet the house on it.
  • The “My Fair Lady” bias. The client is a problem from day one, and the relationship starts out rocky. But you are confident that your skill, charm and legal awesomeness will turn them around. Risk management assessment: It won’t.
  • The Gambler’s Ruin:” You increase your bets when you’re winning but don’t decrease them when you lose. Risk management assessment: when you’re in a hole, stop digging.
  • The Monte Carlo fallacy. You’ve seen the color black come up on the roulette wheel six times in a row. That means bet it all on red, right? Risk management assessment: don’t forget the result is purely random.

Source: Washington Post

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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