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How That Free Consult Cost You the Client

Get a free consultation“She seemed perfectly nice. I liked her, but something didn’t feel right,” said our new client, referring to the lawyer from another firm that she’d met for a free consultation.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I couldn’t understand why she met with me for free. The good lawyers all charge for their consultations,” she explained. “I need the best, and I figured she probably wasn’t it,” she went on.

As I probed a bit more, I discovered that the free lawyer had given some good advice. She helped the client feel better and gave her some information she needed.

However, the free lawyer didn’t get the client. She didn’t get paid for her time in the consultation. She got nothing, and it was all because the client, a woman of means, didn’t trust the lawyer giving away her expertise for free. She didn’t trust her specifically because the advice was free.

Lots of people decide how good you are based on what you charge. For many of us, free is worth exactly what it costs.

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  • Jeff

    To be fair, she sounds like the sort  of Client I would be glad to let walk. If taking my time to her benefit for free doesn’t sit well with her, what exactly is she going to think about paying a bill if things don’t go absolutely perfectly for her? I’ll always give everyone a free half hour consult on principle, but I understand the financial arguments for not doing so for sure…

  • Jeff

    To be fair, she sounds like the sort  of Client I would be glad to let walk. If taking my time to her benefit for free doesn’t sit well with her, what exactly is she going to think about paying a bill if things don’t go absolutely perfectly for her? I’ll always give everyone a free half hour consult on principle, but I understand the financial arguments for not doing so for sure…

  • Kelly

    I agree with Jeff’s comment.  I provide my services only “virtually” – via email, phone calls and documents loaded through a client portal.  I never have a face-to-face meeting with my current client base.  So far, I’m using the free consultation to help people give “virtual” a try.  I start by having them fill in a questionnaire that gives me enough information to determine if I am likely to be able to assist them.  If I can’t, I let them know and try to give them somewhere else to look for help.  If I’m likely to be able to help, I talk with them for about 15 minutes to make sure and then let them know that from that point forward, if they want to work with me to solve a legal problem they have – how that will be done.  I get paid before I deliver any substantive advice or legal documents.  Clients have been very appreciative and I feel valued.  I have a 98% conversion rate using this screening process of the clients I actually talk with.

  • Kelly

    I agree with Jeff’s comment.  I provide my services only “virtually” – via email, phone calls and documents loaded through a client portal.  I never have a face-to-face meeting with my current client base.  So far, I’m using the free consultation to help people give “virtual” a try.  I start by having them fill in a questionnaire that gives me enough information to determine if I am likely to be able to assist them.  If I can’t, I let them know and try to give them somewhere else to look for help.  If I’m likely to be able to help, I talk with them for about 15 minutes to make sure and then let them know that from that point forward, if they want to work with me to solve a legal problem they have – how that will be done.  I get paid before I deliver any substantive advice or legal documents.  Clients have been very appreciative and I feel valued.  I have a 98% conversion rate using this screening process of the clients I actually talk with.

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Lee Rosen

Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than twenty years. With four offices, Rosen Law Firm serves Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rosen served as the Law Practice Management Editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Keane Award for excellence in eLawyering. He served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, is a frequent speaker and is often sought out by the media as a source of family law insight and commentary.