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Old 08-10-2019, 02:48 AM
glee is offline
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How easy is it for lawyers to 'grab' other lawyer's clients?


I like watching the TV series 'Suits', where a bunch of good-looking lawyers indulge in clever legal processes and shaky shenanigans.

Of course it's Hollywood, not real life!

Nevertheless, a repeated meme is that one lawyer will:

- take another's clients
- leave the firm, taking their clients

Does this actually happen?
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Old 08-10-2019, 02:56 AM
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taking their clients when they leave ..yes that happens my dad followed his lawyer (an army buddy)
in 5 diffrent places before he retired

the first happens but its rare because it has to be done delicately so you dont get an ethics complaint ......usually its a disgruntled client looking for someone new and they make sure the other lawyers fired first .....
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
I like watching the TV series 'Suits', where a bunch of good-looking lawyers indulge in clever legal processes and shaky shenanigans.

Of course it's Hollywood, not real life!

Nevertheless, a repeated meme is that one lawyer will:

- take another's clients
This often happens but itís usually on the part of the client. Itís rare that a lawyer will scheme to steal another lawyerís clients.

Quote:
- leave the firm, taking their clients

Does this actually happen?
Yes this happens all the time. Itís a standard future of law firm and partnership.

You become and remain a partner based on the clients you control. If a partner leaves, the firm might try to persuade the clients to stay but the assumption is that they will go with the partner.

I saw a ďcounselĒ manoeuvre herself into a partnership by threatening to take her clients and go if she didnít get a partnership. Thatís rare because by the time a lawyer has enough clients to be that important to keep em, the firm would give em partnership without ēs having to force their hands.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:50 AM
Eva Luna is offline
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The second happens all the time. At my old job, one of the partners left to open her own firm and took a bunch of clients with her (the managing partner had brought them in, but she had been doing all the work for them anyway and they knew her better and were more comfortable with her). I learned from that experience that in IL at least, clients have to be informed of the departure and given an explicit choice of which lawyer to stick with.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:28 AM
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I guess the question is - how would you steal another lawyer's client?

You can't exactly say "He's giving you crap advice, let me help you instead." an accusation like that better be substantial enough to be backed up in front of an ethics committee, if push comes to shove. it better be more than a difference of opinion about how a case should be handled. You especially don't want to do that in the middle of the client's court case. I don't imagine a judge would want to deal with that sort of crap either, it would have a substantial impact on the trial. I suppose if the first lawyer brings someone in to help with the case, and that person over-ingratiates themselves with the client, they might subtly hint that the first lawyer should be dismissed from the case...

I assume there's some ethics guidelines too about approaching another lawyer's client with any legal advice of "offers to help" without being asked? And I assume, even if asked, if the other lawyer is already handling the matter?
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Old 08-10-2019, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
I guess the question is - how would you steal another lawyer's client?

You can't exactly say "He's giving you crap advice, let me help you instead." an accusation like that better be substantial enough to be backed up in front of an ethics committee, if push comes to shove. it better be more than a difference of opinion about how a case should be handled. You especially don't want to do that in the middle of the client's court case. I don't imagine a judge would want to deal with that sort of crap either, it would have a substantial impact on the trial. I suppose if the first lawyer brings someone in to help with the case, and that person over-ingratiates themselves with the client, they might subtly hint that the first lawyer should be dismissed from the case...

I assume there's some ethics guidelines too about approaching another lawyer's client with any legal advice of "offers to help" without being asked? And I assume, even if asked, if the other lawyer is already handling the matter?
Bar associations have rules about advertising but I donít recall being told about any restrictions on trying to take someone elseís clients.

If you are opposing counsel you absolutely canít seek to speak to your opposition without es counsel present.
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Old 08-10-2019, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
I guess the question is - how would you steal another lawyer's client?

You can't exactly say "He's giving you crap advice, let me help you instead." an accusation like that better be substantial enough to be backed up in front of an ethics committee, if push comes to shove. it better be more than a difference of opinion about how a case should be handled. You especially don't want to do that in the middle of the client's court case. I don't imagine a judge would want to deal with that sort of crap either, it would have a substantial impact on the trial. I suppose if the first lawyer brings someone in to help with the case, and that person over-ingratiates themselves with the client, they might subtly hint that the first lawyer should be dismissed from the case...

I assume there's some ethics guidelines too about approaching another lawyer's client with any legal advice of "offers to help" without being asked? And I assume, even if asked, if the other lawyer is already handling the matter?

Sometimes a client will call up and say something like "I have a lawyer but I'm not happy with the way he's handling the case." It's usually a red flag and I don't want to "steal" that client. I tell them they should raise their concerns with their attorney, and even offer to call up the lawyer and start the conversation. If their lawyer really is screwing up their case (it happens, but it's rare) I tell them I'm not going to get in the middle of it and advise them they can fire their lawyer at any time and then go looking for a replacement.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:21 PM
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While I'm in accounting, I assume it works somewhat similarly. We had a partner leave our firm after only a few years of being a partner, and he managed to take a good amount of his clients with him, but there were still plenty that had much more loyalty to the firm than they did that partner. It was planned on being a mutual, negotiated split, but it turned acrimonious before it was completed and things got kinda ugly. I don't know the details, but I assume that it was around him taking clients with him that were not really his. He kept the clients that he recruited, certainly, but ones that he was handed by the firm he was presumably asked to hand back, and that didn't go so well. But really it's the client who decides who they're going to go with, and if their loyalty lies with the person they've worked with for the last several years, or the firm that they worked with for the years before that.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:40 PM
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You missed one scenario that I had considered starting a similar thread on.

"I'll quit doing whatever if you give me 10 of your clients. Or 10 of Harvey's clients."

I'm pretty sure clients can't be passed around like trading cards without their active involvement and consent. No?
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:47 AM
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You missed one scenario that I had considered starting a similar thread on.

"I'll quit doing whatever if you give me 10 of your clients. Or 10 of Harvey's clients."

I'm pretty sure clients can't be passed around like trading cards without their active involvement and consent. No?
Within a firm, particular lawyers are routinely assigned and reassigned to clients and matters. Most of the time a client won't say anything. But there are times when E might have a strong preference to work with or not work with a particular lawyer. Ultimately the client' preference trumps but within the firm such horse trading is still possible.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:41 PM
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Sorry. I didn't make it clear that the clients were being handed off to completely different firms. And that these are generally big clients who pay millions in billable hours and retainers.
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