Last week I received a call from a prospective client who did what a lot of people try to do when they are looking for a lawyer – they try to do an impromptu “consultation” right there on the phone. I’m a solo practitioner, so if I am not in the middle of something, I answer most calls that come my way.
Some of the common questions I get are:
- How much do you charge?
- How much is your “consultation”?
- How long have you been doing this?
- Where is your office?
Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work for most people. If you are looking for a lawyer, it is not a small investment. You are in a situation, either by choice or through no fault of your own, where you need legal advice – and legal advice is a highly customizable commodity. This is not something you should be price-shopping for. Every case is unique, and every lawyer is different.
You are going to be working with this person very closely during the course of your representation. Do yourself a favor – get as much information about the different lawyers your could meet with ahead of time (through websites, friends, online directories, etc.) and call 2-3 different lawyers. See how you are treated by the receptionist, and potentially the lawyer. Do you get a good feeling or not?
Pick a couple that you like, and go to see them. Pay the fee for the initial consultation (I don’t do consultations – but a more thorough assessment of each client’s situation) and then make a decision.
Whatever you do, don’t try and make these decisions over the phone. No attorney that is worth their fee will be willing to accept you as a client after a 10 minute phone consult anyway.