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15 red flags for identifying potentially difficult client
By John Wesley Hall, Edited by Elizabeth Kelley
This is my list of “15 Red Flags”
for potentially difficult criminal defense clients. It was first compiled based
on my 30 years of experience both as a practicing criminal defense lawyer
tempered by practicing in a medium-size legal market. I also consider what I’ve
learned as chair of the NACDL Ethics Advisory Committee and hearing and reading
and writing about criminal defense ethics complaints, malpractice suits,
ineffective assistance claims, and requests for fee refunds, from which none of
us is immune.1 Take them for what they are worth; this is just my
own experience,2 and following them will help you avoid, or at
least better deal with or just tolerate, problem clients:
1. Who referred the client to you?
If it was a former client or word of mouth in the community or even the jail or
prison, that means your name is out there. But, if you are so prominent, why
did not this person recognize your name and call you first? People who have
never been in trouble with the
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