Four Communications Tips for Disengaging a Client Relationship

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It is possible to cordially disengage a client without volatile interactions...

Firms and organizations are sometimes faced with having to disengage a client and often do not employ appropriate communication skills to effectively terminate a professional relationship.

There are various reasons why firms decide to disengage or fire a client, including complex matters, immediate timeline issues, overwhelming workload, conflicts in personality, and clashing of goals.

It is possible to cordially disengage a client without volatile interactions or dissolving a professional contact. Here are four tips to disengage clients effectively and professionally through a disengagement letter or agreement.

1. Your disengagement letter should include a succinct list of reasons for why your firm needs to disengage.

The first reason could explain that the client issue(s) is over and above what your firm is able to handle.

Example:

"The first reason is that while you were referred to our firm, we were not given adequate and proper understanding of how intricate and detailed your legal issues are and unfortunately we at (name of your firm) are ill-equipped to handle your legal matter at this time.”

2. Your disengagement letter should explain that the client issue(s) requires immediate handling

...and offer an explanation as to why that does not work for your firm.

Example:

“Another reason that we (name of your firm) are unable to service your legal needs is that your issue(s) need immediate attention and my firm does not have the capacity or availability to devote the entire office to your pressing issues at this time.

3. Your disengagement letter could address the current global pandemic

...and your firm’s inability to take precedence over other mandated client work.

Example:

“In addition, (name of your firm) has received a multitude of motions and other related trial dates that have been continued (due to COVID) and are now on schedule and those court deadlines must take first priority over new client intake matters.”

4. Your disengagement letter should always include a paragraph understanding the difficulty for your client

...and offer any available remedies for engagement with another firm to ease the transition.

Example:

“We at (name of firm) appreciate the situation that you are in but we are dealing with various degrees of emergencies with current clients. You might want to reach out to (name of other recommended firms or people). We sincerely appreciate you reaching out to us and wish you the best of luck with your legal issues.”

*

After 20 years in-house as a Chief Marketing Officer for various AmLaw 200 law firms, Cynthia Kaiser founded Kaiser Advisors LLC to share her passion by helping others to communicate more effectively. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis on understanding communication behavior.

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