Thursday, April 20, 2006

The difficult prospective client

Had a call today from a prospective client who got a speeding ticket near New York City. For some reason the conversation was difficult. This guy would ask me a question, and I would answer it, and then after a few minutes he'd ask the same question again. After round three or four, I decided he needed to find another lawyer.

This happens once in a while. I tend to gauge it by how long the phone call lasts. A good new speeding ticket client call will take about 5 minutes. The client has some sense of what's going on, and just wants to make sure I know what I'm doing before they spend hundreds of dollars on me.

Sometimes the speeding ticket experience is new for the person, and they're anxious about something. Usually I can respond to those concerns and satisfy that person, but it might take a few more minutes.

Then you get the guy who wants to get free advice on how to handle the ticket on their own. I usually figure those out quickly.

But there's the occasional caller where the conversation meanders (kind of like the classic Italian film L'Avventura by Antonioni, but not as long). They ask questions that don't fit. They ask the same questions over and over again. It seems like the conversation is never going to end. And I guess, from a business perspective, it seems like this caller is not interested in hiring a lawyer.

So I look down at my phone and see I've been talking to this guy for 12 minutes. And I make a business decision - I suggest the caller look for another lawyer. Maybe I should be more patient. But it's a speeding ticket. I've had people hire me on felonies with less conversation.

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