16 February 2015

On firing a client

Bah, had to fire a (completely insane, pill-popping, drama-tastic) pro bono client today. They had no-showed at three straight appointments without canceling beforehand.

During the phone call, they repeated, "I don't think you're being very fair," to which I answered, "I'm sorry you feel that way" and offered to give them the phone number of the agency that referred them. I'm good at being a broken record; they finally took the number and I gotta say I'm glad I won't be hearing that particular voicemail.

The client's mental illness played a part in their not making the appointments, and that's sad. I could have tried harder to remind them about the appointments, or maybe even travel to their home to get the case moving along. But I can't afford to keep clearing my calendar to deal with a client who may pop a Valium in the middle of a meeting and who appears to have given me a much rosier picture of their matter than it really is. Man, did they raise some red flags during our intake interview last year -- red flags that I was blessed to receive from the mentally ill person in my family of origin. So much drama. So many prescriptions. So many phone calls they made and answered while I was conducting the intake interview.

And now they're in my own phone's address book as "DO NOT ANSWER - document voicemail."

Just because a person suffers from a mental illness doesn't mean that the people they deal with aren't allowed to set boundaries. And maybe if the people they interact with regularly -- family, co-workers, friends -- set better boundaries more often, then they would be just a little bit better at managing their illness. I may be accused of not having enough sympathy for the mentally ill. (To which I'd say, well, since I grew up in it, I'm pretty damn tired of it. And so while I'm not afraid of it, I do try to minimize the amount of it I ever have to deal with any more.) But it was the client who told me that this matter was very, very urgent and wanted it wrapped up as quickly as possible  . . . and then skipped three appointments to get their case started in the courts. I'm very comfortable with showing this client the "three strikes, you're out" door.

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