Why Do Some Lawyers Charge A Consultation Fee?

Many lawyers receive hundreds of telephone calls, emails, faxes and letters every week from individuals and businesses seeking an initial consultation to discuss a legal problem they are facing. Many lawyers charge an initial consultation fee to speak with a lawyer. A surprising number of people, perhaps conditioned to expect a “free consultation” from certain lawyers advertising on television, react with angry reproach to the idea of paying a consultation fee. Here’s an explanation as to why many lawyers choose to charge an initial consultation fee.
The first reason should be rather obvious – meeting with people and analyzing their cases takes time. As is the case with every business, lost time generally means lost business. Many lawyers face a situation current legal problems impact factor where, were they to conduct free consultations, they would lose 5-6 hours per day of time that would otherwise be billable in one way or another. They’d be out of business within a few weeks.
Another reason that lawyers charge a consultation fee is to ensure that they are meeting with people who value the service they are offering and who are prepared to invest in really understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their case. I often wonder whether people call doctors’ offices and express the same vociferous family court judges uk objections to the idea of a doctor charging for an examination. I don’t think so, because people recognize the value, for example, in learning whether they have cancer. They are happy to pay the doctor for the evaluation in lieu of reserving payment only in the instance they are diagnosed with something very serious.
Buy what of the lawyers who offer free consultations? As an initial matter, more power to them. But in my experience you often get what you pay for. Many free consultations are not really an opportunity to speak with a lawyer who will evaluate your case and provide an honest assessment. Instead, they are simply an intake interview with someone who is simply a salesperson (and almost invariably not a lawyer). The “free consultation” is simply designed to elicit enough information from you for the firm to determine whether your case is one that might be profitable for the firm to take on. If it is determined otherwise, you’ll be left without any real guidance at all.
It is a benefit to you if a lawyer does not enter every legal consultation with the idea that this is a case he or she is going to take. Instead, the lawyer should give the time and attention needed to evaluate the potential claims and defenses. If there is something they can be of further assistance with, they’ll also discuss that, but the vast majority of such consultations may not result in further representation. If done right, however, the vast majority of consultations do result in customers satisfied with their experience – even if (and sometimes because) they are not told what they want to hear.

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