Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Client Care

Those of us whose practice areas demand that we go to court on an almost daily basis spend a fair amount of time dealing with clients. This is, to say the least, a mixed blessing. Some of them are lovely, though they are few and far between. Others, most in fact, are pleasant enough to deal with, even if you wouldn't necessarily choose to spend any more time than necessary with them. A small but significant minority are just horrible. For the uninitiated, ways in which clients can fall into this category include:

1. Smelling
2. Moaning and complaining about things you have no power to do anything about (often something going on in prison) then getting annoyed when you can't fix it
3. Arguing with everything you say
4.Trying to justify what they've done in a really inappropriate way which often includes racist, sexist and/or homophobic comments

Numbers 1 and 4 applied to today's client. Like many people with appalling personal hygiene, he kept insisting on shaking mine and my solicitor's hands (over the last few years, I've noticed that the more a client smells, the more likely they are to want to shake your hand). A good way around this is to constantly carry as many papers and books as possible but today that made the situation even worse. When he held out his hand I indicated my pile of books and gave what I hoped was a rueful "would if I could" look. In response, he leaned in and gave me a smacker on the cheek. It was so sudden and unexpected, I never stood a chance. They never warned me about this on the BVC...


Simon Myerson said...

The late Brian Walsh QC once led me defending an alleged child abuser. When the jury went out we went to see him. As we left he said "Mr Walsh, you've done as much as anyone could do. Put it there" and held out his hand. BW took it as if it were infected and, with the tips of his fingers, shook it - once. As we went up the stairs he said, "I shall never touch that odious man's hand again."
In due course we were acquitted. We went back down to the cells. BW had adopted your tactics and was carrying his papers and my papers and (probably) the daily papers. The client ran in, squealing "Mr Walsh, Mr Walsh!" and threw open his arms.
You never saw a faster handshake.

Anonymous said...

Hi LB,
Perhaps you could bottle and market said smells under the title " Eau De Criminal Bar" with the strapline" It's Kill or Cure"......! :)

lawyer-2-be said...

Yuk - they never taught any of us about that prospect. Given that 1 to 4 applied he sounds like he was pretty horrid - couldn't you have just done a 'less good job' for him? He might not have been inclined to be quite soooo grateful to you then! L2B :-)

Android said...

From what I hear everyday, some family clients are no better!

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Legal Lass said...


I was once kissed on the HEAD by a client, at the end of a particularly trying civil case..It felt bizzarely parternal and really awkward... I have never felt so unprofessional before or since!!

In my defence, I never had a chance to see it coming as he came at me from the side!!


Mr Beagle said...

Someone kissed you that wasn't me?!? We'll be having words later, missy x

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