Halloween Podcast Series Episode 2 – The “Nervous Nellie” and the “Vampire”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 2 &#8211; The &#8220;Nervous Nellie&#8221; and the &#8220;Vampire&#8221;</span>

Good evening. This is Richard Jacobs talking to you about more monsters that plague attorney practices. Today we are going to go over two more client monsters that plague attorneys. The first one I want to discuss is the nervous nellie. When people are uncertain, they do all kinds of things that are not rational. A nervous nellie is a client who is just nervous about their situation; they may be facing a divorce, dealing with pain from an auto accident, or being accused of a crime.

One example of a nervous nellie is a normal “soccer” mom who was arrested for DUI and is incredibly nervous that they’ll go to jail, have their kids taken from them, or encounter an immigration problem. Alternatively, a nervous nellie client might have had their business destroyed by the coronavirus shutdowns, and they may be nervous about losing everything they’ve built for 10 years.

Many things happen in people’s lives. Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with attorneys and legal representation, there is always stress and fear about the outcome, because no one knows what it will be and it certainly can’t be promised. In some sense, all clients are nervous nellies. Your job is to try to squash that right from the beginning and establish confidence, authority, and knowledge.

Don’t just tell people that you will figure it out as you go, or that “you never know,” because saying these types of things doesn’t inspire confidence. Instead, you can say, “Listen, I can’t promise you a result, but what I can tell you based on my 23 years of experience with cases that are similar to this is that there are a couple of things that are likely to happen. We can say that this is probably what’s going to happen, but it would be unethical for me to promise you results.” This is a good defense against the nervous nellie.

Some people might just be nervous by nature or may not trust you. Right off the bat, you have to set your authority, tell them what they need to know, answer their questions, and not rush them into signing up on a retainer. If there is uncertainty there, you’ll hear it in their voice and you will sense it.

You may ask them questions about their case and they may be hesitant to give you answers because they may not know, their memory might be impaired, or they might just be nervous and sketchy. You have to evaluate people and be able to tell whether they are nervous or shifty, and get a sense of what is going on based on similar cases or clients that you’ve dealt with before.

Pay attention to your gut and make sure you allay people’s fears. Fears can worsen from unanswered questions that you brushed off or didn’t fully answer. It’s always a good idea to provide people with a roadmap, all disclaimers included. You could say, “There will be a preliminary hearing, then there may be some motions, then there may be another hearing, and then there may be a trial.”

Within your practice area, you can certainly give people the lay of the land. This could be a diagram, or something you verbalize to them. You can also give your admins and other people in your firm access to this info so they can relay it to clients. A nervous nellie is a pain, and if you don’t prepare them well, and if you don’t give your staff and everyone that works with you the right information, then you are going to have to answer all of their phone calls, emails, and “what-ifs.” Everything you do and say will likely be questioned if you don’t calm their nervousness.

You don’t want to waste your time or your staff’s time, and you don’t want to be frustrated and get short with someone because they’ve asked you the same question three times. They shouldn’t have to do that, so do your prep. Make sure to think back on your clients and consider what kinds of questions they always ask. You might write those questions in an FAQ or make some videos on them. I arm my staff with written material, references, etc.

It may be a pain to get this together, but it will reduce the nervous nellies, which are just a plague upon your practice; they will suck your time and energy, make your staff nervous and distracted, and may even cause you to question your own sanity. This is the best advice for getting rid of these monsters that plague pretty much everyone’s practice.

The second client monster is one of my favorites: the vampire. There are many vampires in life. There are time vampires, such as those who say, “Can I borrow you for a second? Can I ask you a question? It’ll only take two minutes…” and it ends up being 30 minutes.

A time vampire is someone who is always asking for little things and who doesn’t let you focus. Some clients are time vampires who will ask questions that you’ve already answered and will want to talk about different scenarios and the future. This is yet another reason why you want to have all of your materials and your ducks in a row so that you don’t have to waste time telling people the same thing over and over.

This material could be a series of pre-written text messages, videos, written materials, etc. that can be accessed on the client management area of your website, where clients can log in with a password. This would build a lot of confidence with clients and reduce the time that these vampires suck away from you and your staff. This will help you to be more efficient and move on to other deals, go to hearings, spend time writing up motions and looking for defenses, asking for referrals, marketing, and ultimately getting better results for your clients. Time vampires suck away everything and you just don’t want them in your practice; this is how you can get rid of them.

There are also emotional vampires, which can be similar to nervous nellies and backseat drivers. Emotional vampires are always putting their emotions on you, they are always worried, they are always upset, and they are always afraid. The emotional vampire client might be having to go take care of their child and take time away from work for the fourth time that month. There is lot of drama in life, especially in 2020, and some people will turn into emotional vampires if you let them.

Emotional vampires want emotional comfort from you in whatever way they can get it. This is draining, because we all have only so much to give and we’ve got to take care of our own stuff. You may be having a bad day and not want to deal with clients who are crying or whimpering in fear to staff members who can’t lift a finger without asking you first.

You need to guard yourself against vampires who want to suck the life out of you. There are money vampires too, but within a law practice, thankfully those people are pretty rare or don’t manifest in the way that you might think. Remember that it doesn’t matter whether the vampires in and around your practice are being vampires intentionally or accidentally or because they are neurotic; you don’t want them to suck you dry of time, mental energy, lost opportunities, and lost money that you could have gotten from other clients. You want to guard yourself and your systems against these people and set expectations.

My customer service staff are instructed to tell our clients that we love them and we are here to help them, but we don’t answer calls after hours, which is usually 6pm until 8am or 9am. We will answer on the weekends, but only for emergencies or very urgent matters. Clients are not to text us directly, but should communicate through email and phone. They are not expected to speak to the customer service people at Speakeasy Authority Marketing about personal relationship.

If a client is emailing every single day or multiple times a day (which thankfully rarely happens, but sometimes it does), then we may have to put them their place; you must do the same thing with your practice. If you have 40 or 50 clients in play at one time, or even if you have five clients in play at one time, you have to devote time to getting new clients, marketing, running your firm, attending hearings, writing motions, etc. One vampire can suck you dry and make it very difficult for you to service everyone else, including yourself.

Do you want to work an extra hour at night just because some client who is paying you just the same as everyone else is sucking you dry in time and emotional energy? No. You must guard yourself, guard your neck, guard your practice, guard your time, guard your emotions, and guard your wallet. Intentionally or not, vampires are there to drain you.

This is the end of day two of the Halloween podcasts, and there are 13 total. Look forward to more and more monsters that are coming and that I want you to be on guard about. 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)