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I Will Ignore You

What to do when you bump into old clients?

A few weeks ago my wife and I were out having dinner at a local restaurant when in walked a former client with some of her friends. I had filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case for her the previous year and I could see that she was doing much better these days, out having fun with friends.  I immediately recognized her but didn’t say hello or otherwise acknowledge her presence. You probably wonder why.

As a resident of Colorado Springs who also happens to be a bankruptcy attorney, from time to time I have occasion to frequent the local restaurants, stores and other public places.  It’s not unusual that I’ll come face-to-face with former clients.

This presents somewhat of a dilemma. Oftentimes my former clients will be with their friends.

Should I say hello?

After giving this a lot of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better for my client to think I’m rude rather than to place them in the position where they have to explain to their friends who I am and how they know me.

Of course, if the former client says hello to me first, I won’t pretend that I don’t know them. With very few exceptions, I’m always happy to see former clients, especially after I have helped them get back on their feet financially. But that is their call.  If they say “Hi!” first, of course I will reciprocate.

So if you see me out and about and I don’t say hello to you, please don’t think that I’m just playing the arrogant lawyer role. In truth I would love to say hello, but I just don’t want to put you in a position where you might not be comfortable.

I hope that’s OK.

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Robert J. Doig, Attorney at Law
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