You probably reached this article because you are looking for a free consultation. You might be asking yourself "why should I pay for a consultation when some lawyers offer free consultations?” Recently, I made a decision to offer only paid consultations and I will explain why.
When you have a legal problem or question and are looking for legal advice, you may call around looking for a free consultation. You will probably find an attorney that will offer you one, but there is a catch - they will be giving you what is called a case evaluation. Basically, what this means is that an attorney or intake person will listen to you and make a determination of whether or not they can help you and then explain the cost to retain. They will not give you legal advice, answer legal questions or get into the weeds of your case. In fact, some firms won't even tell you that you aren't speaking with an attorney. I found that most people need and expect real value from their legal consultations, so I switched to a paid model that provides that at an affordable rate. Below I have listed a few of the top reasons for offering paid consultations:
1. Promotes equal opportunities in retaining counsel
The first issue regarding free consultations relates to strategies from each party to hinder the other’s ability to retain counsel. Oftentimes one party will meet with attorneys for consultations as a strategy to create conflict so that the opposing party is unable to speak with the attorneys that their spouse spoke with already. Spouses will actively consult with the top divorce attorneys in their area for the sole purpose of denying the other party their top choices for representation. Those odds don't create fairness for the client or the attorney offering consultations in hopes of helping people. Charging a consultation fee limits a person's ability to shop around just for the sake of preventing the other spouse from retaining quality representation.
2. Protect Yourself
In order for an attorney to offer legal advice, you have to be a client. Now you could be a client on a very limited basis but usually, that agreement involves two things: the first is that representation is limited to what you're going to pay for. Now it's a common practice for attorneys to enter into these limited agreements because most attorneys maintain malpractice insurance which is based on insurance applications that require attorneys to only provide legal advice to their clients. This not only limits what attorneys can say in a free consultation but also the type of advice if any that they can provide regarding your case. A malpractice carrier provides protection for the attorney as it relates to their clients. Attorneys don't want to be sued for giving legal advice especially if they gave advice to a non-client who did not pay for the consultation. This is probably the number one reason why legal advice is not offered during free consultations. Usually, any questions regarding divorce or other family have different answers depending on the case as there are many factors to take into account. If you received legal advice and acted on it, but then turned around and sued the lawyer for that advice our malpractice carrier will not protect us in those circumstances. Providing legal advice may put attorneys at risk so there are many processes in place in order to protect their integrity and profession.
3. Discuss Your Case In Detail
Hiring a full representation attorney is not realistic for everyone. For example, if you have a highly contested and complex divorce and you want the help of an attorney, you are looking at an expensive endeavour. There is an unrealistic expectation that a free consultation is equal to a “free” attorney, or in other words a cheap attorney. Personally, I prefer for potential clients to understand the costs associated with their case upfront. My goal is not to take your last dollar but to provide you real value for your case. Now your case might become very contested and if you want to bring out all the stops in your case and you want to be as aggressive as possible that takes time and it takes money. Those are decisions that the attorneys are not involved in, those are your decisions. You need to understand that pursuing a divorce, especially a contested divorce, can be expensive. Sometimes you don't get the full understanding of that through a free consultation because you don't have the opportunity to discuss the case in detail. When attorneys charge a nominal consultation fee they see that the client is serious about finding a legal representative that meets their ability to pay for the attorney's services. Many will be able to find they can navigate their divorce case themselves. Others may decide that they need the help of an attorney and find ways to hire one to assist throughout the divorce process. Consultation fee costs narrow down options and help speed up the process of finding the right attorney for you.
4. Quality Over Quantity
Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Good attorneys value their time. By offering a paid consultation, the attorney is offering you their undivided attention, so that you receive the best possible service for your money. With many years of experience and education, our attorneys are dedicated to weighing the circumstances of your situation with your legal options and resources to tailor a personalized legal strategy for you. This is the only responsible way to give legal advice. An attorney who offers free legal consultations does not provide that level of professionalism and is usually doing so out of desperation for clients. Experienced, established attorneys who do not need to “chase” cases usually do not. Typically with these matters, time is of the essence, therefore paid consultations can also assure that you receive a timely consultation. Although free consultations are tempting, it has been proven that paid consultations offer a much more complete analysis of your case, the quality of legal advice that is provided is otherwise lacking in free consultations.
5. Limits Costs In The Long-run
There are other options for those who cannot pay for a typical full representation retainer. In hindsight, paying a consultation fee can prevent you from investing a large amount of money in your case with someone who may not be able to fight for the results you want. Additionally, participating in a productive case strategy session with an attorney who can provide legal advice, allows you to make an informed decision about how to proceed. If you are not searching for full representation, you can ask an attorney to do limited work such as draft a document, write a letter to the opposing party, or even attend a hearing. You can find ways to limit your cost and by partaking in a free consultation with an attorney you may never know how to do so. If you get a free consultation that attorney may not be able to tell you how they can help you or how they can just draft a letter or attend the hearing or do other limited work on your behalf. By implementing paid strategy sessions clients get helpful information and advice for their case and how they can help themselves if they decide that they cannot afford an attorney.
How to Get a Good Deal
While you should expect to pay for a high-quality consultation that will help you make an informed decision regarding your legal case, you can still find ways of limiting your expenses without sacrificing value. Most top family law firms in New Mexico charge the attorneys hourly rate for a consultation. That usually ranges from $200-$300 per hour. While this isn’t outrageous, it is also not necessary. Family law is nuanced but it isn’t rocket science if you know what you’re talking about. A good attorney can analyze the relevant facts of your case, provide you your options and give you meaningful legal advice without wasting your money for an hour. That’s why Genus Law offers $75.00 30 minute consultations that starts the process of solving your problem without wasting your money.
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If you need help with a divorce, custody or guardianship case in New Mexico, we can help. Unlike the other top Albuquerque divorce firms, Genus Law's sole focus is helping New Mexicans with family law cases. That's what we do. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our New Mexico family law attorneys, contact us , or call 505.317.4455 or fill out the contact form your screen to speak with someone at any time.