Are Free Legal Consultations Really Free?
Are Free Legal Consultations Really Free?
Legal services are frequently thought to be among the most expensive things might need during their life – in addition to buying a home and emergency medical care. Fortunately, if you are in need of free legal advice or low-cost legal advice, there are many different places you can turn to, including services provided by law firms, the government, and even law schools.
When you start to find out about the various fees involved in legal consultation, you’ll see that some are entirely free, while others are offered at a very much reduced rate.
This may seem to be great – you can get some advice from a professional for free rather than paying a hefty price for something that you may or may not use in future. But the old adage can ring true here: “You get what you pay for.”
Legal Consultations That ARE FREE
When you do get a legal consultation that is entirely free, it’s more about whether or not you will feel comfortable if you decide to proceed with this particular lawyer. Do you feel comfortable with their personality, their style?
A free consultation also allows the lawyer to be sure if this is the type of work they would want to take on.
For the most part, lawyers will not provide you with legal advice throughout a free initial consultation. Rather, they will listen to you and then let you know if they are willing to work with you.
One other thing to keep in mind is that if the attorney is offering free client consultations, perhaps they have very few clients. After all, most cases involve a huge commitment of time.
If they do provide you with free legal consultation or if the consultation is offered at a very low rate, this may be an indication of the firm having problems, lacking clients, lacking experience, or there could be some other red-flag reason that you should try to find out about before engaging the firm’s services.
This may not always be true, but the fact is that most experienced and reputable law firms do charge a reasonable consultation fee in exchange for information that’s not only valuable but also tailored to the needs of the potential client.
Why Most Lawyers DO Charge for an Initial Consultation
Most lawyers will charge an initial consultation fee and there are a number of reasons for this:
- Lawyers must abide by strict rules of professional conduct. This means that even if you make a decision that the lawyer or law firm is not right for you, it’s likely they will be unable to represent your opponent on account of a conflict of interest. In essence, the consultation fee can be regarded as a way to protect the law firm from the possibility of lost future legal work.
- Some attorneys utilize fees for initial consultations to determine the seriousness of the potential client as well as the client’s ability to actually pay for legal services.
- Consultation fees also help to weed out ‘tire kickers,’ or people that simply wish to get free legal advice. Lawyers invest a lot of money, time, and effort in gaining knowledge and expertise and clients receive valuable information through a good consultation. There should be some compensation for this.
Even if a lawyer decides that your case is not a good fit for their skills and experience, they may well offer various alternatives that are not profitable to themselves but are beneficial to the client. Thus, it is fair that a lawyer should be compensated for the provision of valuable legal advice as well as their capacity to help the potential client formulate a solid working plan to help them move forward.
So, what should you expect and what shouldn’t you expect if you were to pay for a legal consultation?
What You Should Expect When You Pay for a Legal Consultation
- The attorney will listen closely to what you say. They’ll review history and facts as well as any other relevant factors pertaining to your case or scenario.
- You should receive a detailed explanation with respect to your legal rights. This is based upon your given scenario as well as the facts provided.
- The legal option/s available to you and possible outcomes with respect to each option. You’ll also be informed about the cost of each option albeit, costs will of course vary and cannot be entirely controlled by your lawyer.
Your consultation may leave you feeling dissatisfied in terms of the options available to you as well as the potential costs involved. But at the very least you will be educated and you will be more aware of what you should do next.
What You Shouldn’t Expect When You Pay for a Legal Consultation
- You shouldn’t expect (or get) a sales presentation. The consultation should help you gather relevant information about your case or scenario. At the conclusion, you should feel that any questions you had have been answered and you now better understand how to proceed.
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