Halloween Podcast Series Episode 1 – The “Ghost” and the “Backseat Driver”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 1 &#8211; The &#8220;Ghost&#8221; and the &#8220;Backseat Driver&#8221;</span>

Today’s podcast covers two client monsters: the ghost and the backseat driver. The ghost is a potential client who talks to you, takes up your time, seems to really get along well with you, and then disappears; they go ghost, and you never hear from them again. Some of these ghosts may come back periodically and ask a follow-up question or promise to get back with you, yet they never do. Why do these creatures go ghost, and who is responsible? Is it you or is it them? Would they have made a good client or not?

I can tell you that the more you accept responsibility for ghosts, the better off you’ll be. I’m not saying it’s your fault that someone turns into a ghost, but there are certain ways to do your consults, run your practice, and serve your clients so that they are less likely to turn into ghosts. If you accept responsibility and do everything that you can to stop them from going ghost, then they are much less likely to.

No one likes ghosts. They take up time and money, and they haunt you with questions like, “Why and where did this person go?” Everything seemed to be going along very well…“How come they won’t answer me?” Unfortunately, a potential client can become a ghost at any step of the process. It might be after you’ve been on a call with them, in a Zoom session, or even an in-person meeting for 30 minutes or an hour.

You’ve gone over the facts of their case and they seemed to be on track with you, and then they say they need to think about it, sleep on it, talk to their spouse, pray about it, speak to a few other attorneys, see if they can get money together, etc. The ghost makes the promise and then disappears, and all the follow up you do—the text messages, the chats, the direct mail, the phone calls, the emails—is just met with silence. They are gone, never to return.

What can you do to make sure this never happens? For one, make sure that you answer all of a potential client’s questions. If you don’t, or if you say to them, “We’ll handle that when I see you in person,” or “We are not going to address that right now, let’s leave that for a little bit later,” then the ghost may stew over these unanswered questions and use them as a reason to never come back to you. You don’t want to overplay your hand, but you do want to answer all their questions and concerns, and not marginalize them or tell them to wait.

Unanswered needs cause people to be uncertain and leads to them ghosting. It leads to them having conversations with other lawyers who may not make the same omissions that you did. Or, they might talk to other lawyers who they simply get along better with, or they might find them at a time when they are ready to retain. Some of this you can help, and some of it you cannot.

The best thing you can do is be as complete as possible and make sure you ask the person what the single most important thing about their case is, and then use that in future communications with them. This will radically reduce the possibility that they’ll turn ghost and disappear on you. If people feel listened to, heard, and understood by you, then they are much more likely to bond with you and not disrespect you and your time and effort by going ghost on you.

If you are representing a client who is showing signs of getting back to you less and less often or with longer and longer pauses, that is a warning signal that they might ghost you financially or just stop cooperating. They may not show up for important hearings, events, or phone conferences, which is a big danger, because if you have to withdraw representation or if their actions compromise your representation, then they may haunt you, write a bad review, or claim that you didn’t do your job. You want to be complete in your representation and make sure that your clients have no lingering doubts, because if they do, they may ghost you and cause a big problem.

The second monster is the backseat driver. This is a client who is nervous and needs to have a sense of control. Perhaps they are facing criminal charges, jail time, a divorce, the loss of custody of their children, the loss of a significant amount of money, bankruptcy, a horrible lawsuit that’s disrupting their life, or a business dispute with a long-timer partner.

They may feel that their whole world is turning upside down and like they have no control. They seek a reassessment and reassertion of control in their lives, so they try to be a backseat driver; they try to tell you how to do your job and question everything you do. They ask why you did or didn’t do certain things, they bother and bedevil your staff, and they suck up your time.

These clients are hard to control and terrible to represent. Even if you do everything you can and get a good result, they are going to credit themselves with the result, and they are going to believe that if they hadn’t bothered you and been on top of it, then they wouldn’t have gotten a good result. They will not credit you for anything and will not write you a good review.

If possible, you want to root out these potential client monsters in the beginning and not take on any backseat drivers. If it’s too late and you’ve already taken one, then you must assert your authority and demonstrate your knowledge, confidence, and capability; if you don’t, they are going to try to take control of the wheel, run you off the road, ruin their case, and ruin your firm.

Tomorrow will be part two of 13, and we are going to cover some more client monsters. Thank you.

Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)