Are Lawyer Consultations Free?
Some situations in life require the assistance of an attorney, and finding the right lawyer to represent you is essential to obtain peace of mind and a good outcome – especially if your case goes to court. Unfortunately, not everyone has the money necessary to schedule meetings with different attorneys to determine which one best fits their case. In this scenario, your first question is probably, “Are lawyer consultations free?”
Are lawyer consultations free?
Often, yes. Fortunately, many law firms - including Nelson MacNeil Rayfield - do offer prospective clients free consultations to help them decide whether or not an attorney is actually needed and whether or not the attorney or law firm is the right fit for their case.
Why doesn’t every lawyer offer free consultations?
Lawyers are just like everyone else – they only have so much time in a given day. To make a living, lawyers either charge by the hour, charge a flat fee for a given service, or charge a contingent fee, meaning they’ll get paid only if you win your case.
Since lawyers aren’t being paid for free consultations, it’s not uncommon for solo lawyers or smaller law firms to offer free consultations during their slow seasons and charge for consultations during peak seasons. Larger law firms may task paralegals with scheduling and handling free consultations, while others don’t offer them at all. Free consultations aren’t representative of a law firm’s reputation or success rate - they’re merely a personal choice made by law firms based on their business model and their bottom line.
Finally, some areas of practice tend to offer free consultations while others typically don’t. Most lawyers offer personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice free consultations to educate and provide resources before continuing with a potential case.
What can I expect during a free consultation?
In most cases, a free consultation is a 30-minute phone call in which you’ll have a chance to describe your case and have any questions you may have answered. Think of it as a two-sided interview: not only is it an opportunity for you to decide if you like the lawyer and their qualifications, but it’s an opportunity for the lawyer to decide if your case is something they’re able to handle.
If they’re unwilling or unable to take your case, ask for a recommendation of another lawyer that may take the case. In many cases, lawyers have a large professional network and may know a lawyer or two who may be a better match for your specific case.
What questions should I ask during a free consultation?
During the free consultation, be sure to ask about the attorney’s fees. As previously mentioned, some attorneys charge by the hour while others charge based on the service performed or on a contingent basis. Decide which payment method works best for you, and find a lawyer who charges accordingly.
Additionally, during the free consultation, you should make sure the law firm and/or lawyer are people that you’ll feel comfortable with, as you’ll be speaking with them at length about things that may be sensitive in nature.
Since free consultations have limited timeframes, come prepared with a list of questions and take advantage of every minute of your one-on-one time with the lawyer.
How can I prepare for a consultation?
Whether your consultation is free or you’re paying a fee, it’s important to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for the lawyer to understand the legal issue at hand.
Make copies of all the documents you’ve collected about your case, and write down any notes or questions you may have. If the legal consultation is in-person, dress as if you’re going to a business meeting or a professional interview. Read all documents carefully before signing and, if you don’t understand what you’re being asked to sign, ask the lawyer to explain it to you in full.
Finally, ask for copies of letters or documents prepared on your case. It’s important to keep your own file log, as you may decide to go with a different lawyer down the line.
Most importantly, be honest. The conversation you have with your lawyer is private, so don’t withhold any important information because you’re embarrassed or scared. Your lawyer is here to help, and their judgements are based on legal training and experience, not personal beliefs.
If you have a legal issue in one of our many practice areas, we’d be happy to provide a free consultation. Give us a call today.