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Walking A Fine Line: How Legal Representation Impacts Your Bottom Line

The decision to take on any client invariably gets down to a business decision. Beyond legal considerations, the firm weighs the ethical issues, any potential conflicts of interest, and most importantly financial gain.

Client Retention & Referrals

Partners heavily rely on repeat business and referrals from their clients. When a law firm represents clients with conflicting values, existing clients may feel uneasy — potentially leading to lost business.

Client Acquisition

Attracting new clients is a pivotal facet of a partner’s role in a law firm. When a firm represents a highly polarizing client, prospective clients may harbor concerns regarding the firm’s ethical standards and may opt to look elsewhere. This can severely impact the firm’s ability to acquire new business. 

Internal Divisiveness 

The decision to represent any client may present a conflict with some partners at the firm who may question — how the client fits with the values the firm was founded upon? Repercussions may result in departures, further diminishing the firm’s existing client relationships.

Ethical Concerns

Representing a client whose values are in conflict with the partners affects their ability to serve the firm’s clients effectively.

Reputatoinal Damage

Striking a balance between financial interests and guiding principles is a challenge that every law firm and partner must grapple with. The decision to represent any client ultimately gets down to how the firm’s reputation is impacted. 

Retention and acquisition are the linchpins of a law firm’s growth. Compromising on ethical standards for financial gain can lead to alienating existing clients, leading to a breakdown in trust — critical to growing the law practice’s business.

Taking on controversial clients can generate negative publicity and public scrutiny, damaging the firm’s public image and ethical perception.


At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself. Is it worth it? Are you comfortable with the direction your firm is taking? Is it time to consider making a lateral partner move? If you aren’t happy with the way things are going? It’s time to meet with a legal advisor to evaluate your options.  

Schedule A Consultation 

Source:  Reputation and Its Risks (Harvard Business Review, February, 2007)

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About On Balance Search

On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence. Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises experienced attorneys at every stage of their career to take them to the next level. From making the lateral partner move to succession planning.

Shari takes a proactive approach to advising law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm. On Balance Search identifies opportunities that exist today, not down the road.

Contact us today. Call 516.731.4300 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader. Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.

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