(8) Be Wary of Paying an Initial Consultation Fee
You should not need to pay an attorney in order to determine whether to hire one. Attorneys are expensive, and it should not cost you anything to find out whether you like or want to hire a particular attorney or not. Additionally, most attorneys will not provide you with much legal advice, if any, during an initial consultation. For the most part, the initial consultation will be the attorney asking you questions and finding out the facts regarding your case.
If you use a lawyer referral service, a small charge may be justified, but the lawyer referral service will often require that the lawyer give you 30 minutes of time in exchange for the small fee.
Attorneys often charge initial consultation fees to clients to make sure that the client is serious about hiring an attorney. Many potential clients come in and are shocked at what it costs to hire an attorney after the initial consultation, wasting a half-hour of their own time and the attorney’s time. Unfortunately, this sticker-shock is largely caused by the unwillingness many attorneys have to give ballpark estimates or flat fee options to clients prior to the client coming in for an initial interview. Attorneys are afraid to do this because they have no way of knowing the facts of the case and whether they will be spending 100 hours or just 10 hours on the case until after meeting with the client in-depth. Attorneys should not benefit from their own unwillingness to give ballpark estimates.