David Lefkowitz Gives Free Advice – Part I – Choosing Your Clients Carefully

Few attorneys like to receive a letter from David Lefkowitz.  David Lefkowitz of  The Lefkowitz Firm, LLC has spent the majority of his professional life suing attorneys, a few several of whom actually deserved it.  He is one of the elite “plaintiff’s” legal malpractice attorneys  in Georgia.  Thus, when he gives advice on how to avoid being sued, it is worth reading.

David recently wrote an article that was published in the Fulton County Daily Report that focused on how attorneys can provide better service and thus avoid civil claims.  Since a subscription is required to read his article in the Fulton County Daily Report, David has graciously permitted me to publish exerts of his article here at Attorney Defender.  David’s article had five suggestions for claim avoidance and better client service.  One suggestion will be posted here on Mondays for the next five weeks.


Protecting one’s assets in the practice of law may be achieved by multiple means.  One method is to properly organize your business structure, such as forming an LLP, LLC or other limited liability entity.  The same planning and energy that goes into the creation of a business structure, however, can also be applied to substantive risk management at the attorney-client level.

I would like to provide a 5-item list; one which will also help protect attorneys and allow them to provide better service (which, after all, is the very best way to avoid a claim).


Mr. Lefkowitz chooses a rather clingy client.

Choose your clients carefully

In this era of internet, television, radio, billboard and mail marketing/advertising it seems like the focus is always on how we can find more clients. Lawyers should also focus their attention on which clients they choose to represent. Once a client retains you, it can be difficult to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship. Deadlines may be pending, and withdrawal may harm your client. A judge trying to push his docket may refuse to allow you to withdraw, because it will delay the trial.

If you are representing a client who can no longer pay your invoices, and you can’t withdraw, you will wish you had taken a closer look at the client’s ability to pay before you agreed to represent him. Some lawyers are shy about asking prospective clients about their financial wherewithal. Consider starting the conversation like this: “Your financial condition is generally none of my business, but I do need to ask you a few questions in the context of this representation.” That’s a good way to break the ice and ultimately find out of a client can afford to retain your firm. In addition to determining the financial wherewithal of a prospective client, you should attempt to feel comfortable that you can help the client obtain his goals.

If a client seeks a result (revenge, perhaps?) that you know, going in, you cannot accomplish, you are better off declining the representation. Some lawyers feel that they should accept a client or a legal matter simply because they have some extra time on their hands. Please don’t fall into that trap. A bad decision regarding a new client can cost a lot more than the revenue the client may bring in.

You may have but one opportunity to say “no thanks” to a prospective client. Use that opportunity wisely.


For a similar discussion, see How To Ruin Your Malpractice Insurer’s Day – I.  Join us next Monday for Part II of the David Lefkowitz series.

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