A few weeks ago, a nice woman scheduled a consultation with me and said, surprised, ‘I had no idea I could get all of this out of just a consultation!’ (She came to me, of course, after knowing how to properly look for a lawyer). ? In my many years of practicing law, it’s becoming more clear to me that many people do not understand what a consultation is and all that they can get out of one.
We tend to associate consultations with personal injury lawyers as they tend to typically advertise (a lot) FREE consultations. But did you know that each type of lawyer has a different purpose for their consultations? Personal injury attorneys tend to assess whethe a person has a valid case. After the consultation, there isn’t much information or value the attorney can provide after the consultation is over and the attorneys determine that the person does not have a good case. This is simply due to the nature of the claim, not because of any problem with the lawyers themselves.
Other attorneys, like myself, actually provide actionable advice to clients whether they end up hiring me or not. Like in this lovely lady’s situation, she needed to know whether her non-compete was enforceable so she could work for a nearby employer. She did not realize she could simply schedule a consultation to ask me some questions with zero intent on hiring me for more services. What did she get out of the consultation? She learned that she could leave a job she was unhappy with and how to handle any threats from the current employer. She said she wished she came sooner prior to signing this contract to get advice if she knew she could do that.
Why Do Some Attorneys Charge for Consultations and Why Are Some Free?
Whether a lawyer charges or not for the consultation is based on their area of practice and their business model. Personal injury attorneys are those who most commonly offer free consultations. For business, contracts (and some litigation) attorneys like myself, do charge for consultations. As I stated above, many of consultations result in information that my clients can apply, even if they do not hire me. For example, sometimes the potential client does have a case but the value is too small and hiring an attorney may cost more than what the person is trying to recover. But I do provide a small claims guide that can help those people collect the smaller amounts.
Some lawyers (like myself) do apply the consultation fee as a credit to the first invoice if the client hires the attorney. Another consideration is that once a client consults with a person, it creates what is a ‘conflict’ for future potential clients. For example, if an employee consults about about suing her employer and the employer calls me the next day about the same issue, I can not allow that employer to hire me. This is because I owe a duty to the employee who consulted with me, even if the employee only spent a very short amount of time with me.
‘But What if I Am Not Sure I Want To Hire That Lawyer?’
That’s a great question. We do live in a content-first marketing world where businesses are expected to prove their value first. Any law firm that understands that concept will be posting and writing articles regularly and maybe even posting YouTube videos. Reading reviews or asking your friends is another way to assess whether an attorney is worth your time. Just keep in mind that if an attorney is going to give you valuable advice and time, it may cost you money because a law firm is still a business.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with me, however, it’s very easy and you can do so by simply filling out the form below (keep scrolling down) or call my office (630) 517-5529.