Five Reasons Lawyers Should Never Give a Free Consultation

Some people need to be convinced to act in their own best interest. If you’re a lawyer, this article may be just the thing you need. If you’re not charging a consultation fee, you are HURTING your ability to sign up new clients.

Good lawyers charge consultation fees. Great lawyers charge HIGH consultation fees. 

Do you want to be great? Here are the five reasons you should NEVER, EVER give a free consultation.

One: Decreased perception of value. 

You get what you pay for. That’s what clients believe. Your advice, expertise, and ability to deliver a result are immediately compromised because you are offering something of value for free. Clients instantly view you as a commodity. 

Two: You wreak of desperation.

You are so desperate to land a client that you will initially give away your services to get them in the door. How low can you go? Does a doctor give you a free consultation? How about a car mechanic or even a massage therapist? Of course, they don’t. 

You can go broke giving away free consultations, or you can go broke sitting on your couch, eating chips and watching TV. Why work hard at losing money? 

Three: You give legal advice in the consultation. 

Each time you advise a client, there is some element of risk involved. You’re a professional, and you give good advice, but stuff happens. That’s why you carry malpractice insurance. Clients compensate you for the risk.

Four: You create a relationship and a potential conflict.

In this consultation, the client will reveal information to you that will preclude you from working on this case or, potentially, any other case in which he is a party. You must receive compensation for creating an attorney/client relationship. 

Five: You set a terrible precedent for the value of your advice, expertise, and service.

The free consultation sets you up as a lawyer who will negotiate fees. It also sets you up as someone who takes ANYONE off the street. Let’s face it; consultation fees help keep crappy clients (those with no money) away from you. This is an excellent barrier. 

Charging a consultation fee also offers you the opportunity to take control of the price discussion before the client does. Make no mistake; when you discount your fees (and a free consultation is a discount), you’re not in control.

Bottom line: If you charge a fee and then rebate it when the client pays his bill, you are a hero. If you charge a fee and waive it for friends and family, you are a good person. If you charge a fee and waive it for a great referral source, you’re building a relationship. But if you don’t charge anyone a fee, ever, you are a sucker surrendering control of your business to your clients.