A couple of months ago we had a potential client who was irate with us. After reviewing her case and discussing the matter with her at length she:

  • sent a series of any emails, using ALL CAPS generously
  • yelled at my staff on the telephone
  • threatened to report me to the Virginia State Bar
  • said she was going to go to places like Yelp.com and Avvo and leave a bad review

Our transgression?

We had declined to represent her in what she thought was a "slam dunk" medical malpractice case.

Yup. That's it. We had declined her case.

She couldn't understand why, even though before meeting her in person we had sent her our medical malpractice book, our DVD and other client information materials. During our initial meeting we had carefully set out our process for evaluating a medical malpractice case, and explained to her that we would need:

  • to determine that her case was meritorious and not frivolous
  • to assess the damages potential and evaluate whether her case met our value criteria, so that she would not be stuck with a small recovery but a big bill for out of pocket expenses
  • to determine that she would make a good witness at trial. "Would a jury like her?", we would ask

Unfortunately, although her damages were significant, she just didn't have a meritorious case. We had reviewed the case with our in-house nurse, reviewed the literature, and advised this potential client that she would be wasting her money (and our time) by even having the case reviewed by qualified experts.

There was more, too.

We could tell by reviewing the medical records and the notes this potential client had sent us while the case was under review that she was mad at everyone. There were many notes in the medical files about her being rude, not following medical advice, and about her calling the doctor's offices and and yelling at her staff.

What we didn't tell her was that there is a "hidden factor" in our assessment of cases. That is this: if we see that you are nasty to everyone else you come in contact with and you complain about everything under the sun, we wonder "will we be next?"

I guess in this case, based on her diatribe with our staff after we declined her case, we made a good  call.

We want our clients to be happy and with some people, you are never going to make them happy.

So if she writes that "bad review" we'll just respond and set out the facts.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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