The Moot Times UCalgary Law
Identifying Your Nightmare Client
By Robin Young
As law students, I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of the “nightmare client”, or someone so mind bogglingly difficult to work with, they make every day of your practice a living hell. It’s clear, however, that there’s probably some special someone who would shine more than the rest! If you’d like to find out which random character from the media would be your go-to Nightmare Client, take this quiz!
In order to find out who your Nightmare Client would be, read the question and then circle which letter represents the worst possible scenario for you. Which Nightmare Client is so annoying they send shivers down your spine?
1. What sort of personality most grates on your nerves?
A. A blunt know-it-all who simultaneously vies for your attention and approval.
B. A sarcastic vagabond who assumes they are always the cleverest in the room.
C. A loud, judgmental, eager individual who believes they are not only above the law, but everything else in existence.
D. A boisterous, sarcastic, and immature person who simultaneously thinks they know more than you while turning your entire career into mockery.
E. Someone with little to no self-awareness and unrelenting naivety whose needs are impossible to meet.
2. Which type of behaviour do you find the most disrespectful?
A. Drastic means for maintaining control over a situation, including threatening you personally.
B. Flaky, devil-may-care energy and ultimately only gives wishy-washy responses when asked questions.
C. A constant bombardment of attention seeking followed by extremely impolite and rude comments about you as a person.
D. Sarcastic and silly behaviour that ultimately only leads to more questions and general difficulty.
E. A complete inability to ever find satisfaction in what you’re offering them, and always trying to bring other people into the situation.
3. How seriously would your Nightmare Client take this matter?
A. Unreasonably seriously, as if the situation were truly life or death for them. They also are convinced they are the only person who could solve the matter.
B. Seriously, but only to the extent where they can find a means to get out of the situation without any of your help whatsoever.
C. They are only taking the attention they are gaining from the matter seriously, not the matter itself.
D. If no one was seriously injured or harmed due to their actions, this client would turn the entire matter into buffoonery. They only take their personal definition of harm seriously.
E. Not seriously whatsoever, and seemingly only has pure disregard for their actions.
4. How well would your Nightmare Client understand the law?
A. They are certain they understand the law inside and out, including loopholes. They do not.
B. While they might understand the basics of the law, they look at it as an active obstacle to avoid and believe they should be combatting you as much as their “opponent”.
C. They do not understand the law whatsoever and actually admit to having committed frequent crimes outside of the matter at hand.
D. They only understand it to the point where it impacts their personal area of employment and view it as an obstacle or annoyance outside of that.
E. They have little to no understanding of the law, with even less care for it. They believe that the goodness in their heart transcends them beyond it.
5. How would your Nightmare Client handle payment for your services?
A. Offering payment in anything other than regular currency, including outlandish stories, food you don’t want to eat, or a free stay within their residence.
B. Pay you? Ha. Honestly, at this point, you’re not even breaking even but actually losing money on this client somehow.
C. They would promise to pay you back eventually, once they are famous enough to afford it, and offer to name drop you in their memoir.
D. At best, they would promise to pay you eventually. At worst, they would pull out whatever they had in their pockets (lint, gum, loose change) and make a joke about it.
E. By fluttering their eyelashes and trying to show you the real payment was the growth you had along the way.
6. How trustworthy is your Nightmare Client?
A. Trustworthy only when they are certain they can trust you, which entails a series of outlandish tests to prove your trustworthiness.
B. Not trustworthy whatsoever, at this rate, you’re convinced they don’t even trust themself half of the time.
C. Trustworthy, but only if it earns them your attention. If not, they will happily lie to earn it.
D. Completely trustworthy, you assume, but it’s hard to get past their goofy nature and sarcasm to understand what they’re actually trying to tell you.
E. Trustworthy to a fault, but still unable to recognise when they’ve done anything wrong if the person it happened to was morally corrupt.
7. Would your Nightmare Client admit guilt or liability?
A. Almost immediately, however, they would not realise they were admitting it.
B. Anytime they’re asked. In fact, at this rate, they almost seem to be proud of having gotten away with it for this long.
C. Absolutely not. In fact, you’re certain they’ve never accepted responsibility or taken accountability for anything serious in their life.
D. Yes, but only if they go on a self-fulfilling journey to realise there is potential growth they could gain from this situation.
E. Absolutely not, since this client possesses goodness and kindness in their heart and only does what protects them and those they love.
8. What sort of expectations would your Nightmare Client have?
A. Control over the entire situation, including your ultimate opinion of them.
B. That you’ll somehow manage to screw this up, and in the meantime, they’ll simply have to get themself out of the situation on their own.
C. That they would be your number one priority in every single circumstance, regardless of whether you are assisting other clients or even having a personal evening to yourself.
D. No expectations whatsoever, and if any, that they are destined to fail. This person is self-sabotage central, and you are sick of it!
E. The expectation to be able to go home without any problems or taking any accountability whatsoever.
9. What is the worst demand your Nightmare Client could make?
A. For you to actively commit any sort of crime to help them get their way.
B. For you to blatantly ignore their constant embarrassing acts of rebellion and to give them preferential treatment over the basics of the legal system.
C. That you build up their confidence and constantly feed their unquenchable ego while trying to deal with their matter.
D. To ask for one last experience they’ve placed on their bucket list because they saw it in a film, since they’re overdramatic.
E. That you would fully map out an entire path for them to be able to achieve their goal.
10. What is the worst personal relationship you could have with your Nightmare Client?
A. Absolutely no boundaries whatsoever, where your client rarely leaves you alone, resorting to obsessive tendencies.
B. They simply think you’re beneath them in every definition of the word, when in reality, they need you constantly and can barely take care of themself.
C. Essentially, they stalk you, crave attention, demand special treatment, and generally cause chaos in your life.
D. A relationship which is only based on them constantly teasing you and never taking you or your work seriously.
E. You would have to repeat the instructions to this client over and over again and hope they wouldn’t get distracted by anything shiny along the way.
Thank you for taking the quiz! Now, go ahead and tally up your scores. Whichever letter you have the most of (A, B, C, D, or E) represents who would be your go-to Nightmare Client!
A. Dwight Schrute, The Office
B. Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean
C. Rachel Barry, Glee
D. Jake Peralta, Brooklyn 99
E. Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz