Dealing with Difficult Clients

  • 03 janvier 2019
  • Robert Shawyer


If you are a professional providing some kind of service to the public, you may come across a couple of clients who may ruin your day. If you are a lawyer, it is very possible that through the course of your practice you will eventually have to deal with some clients who are unreasonable, demanding, un-cooperative and overall difficult. If you are a family law lawyer, you may be lucky enough to experience a couple of days free of having to deal with difficult clients.

Family law lawyers of course do not have exclusivity in dealing with difficult clients, but our practice has taught us that, in this particular field, the majority of clients have a multitude of issues they are dealing with simultaneously and often feel very overwhelmed. In an excellent paper titled “Dealing with the Difficult Client”[1], Justice Carole Curtis identified nine categories of difficult clients: the angry/hostile; the vengeful/with a mission; the over-involved/obsessive; the dependent; the secretive/deceitful; the depressed; the mentally ill; the difficult client with the difficult case; and the one that is unwilling to accept/follow lawyer’s advice. 

The family law field of practice has a particular characteristic: your clients, by the time they reach your office, either have already experienced all seven stages of grief or they are going through one during the time they are actually talking with you. This means that a family law lawyer has to be extra careful to take into consideration one more element in addition to everything mentioned above, when dealing with a client: the “timing”.