Free Consultation: You Get What You Pay For
In the attorney-hiring world, there is a myth that a person with a legal dilemma can call an attorney for a free consultation to solve their problems. Before I dispel this myth, ask yourself the following questions:
- Would I call a doctor that I found on Google and ask for a diagnosis on why I have heart palpitations?
- Would I call a plumber and ask him how to fix a broken toilet in order to avoid paying him to come to my home?
- Would I call an accountant that ranks high in the online search results and spend an hour on the phone explaining my financial circumstances, then asking him to tell me how to file my taxes?
The answer to these questions is probably “No.” Therefore, why is there a misconception that people with a legal problem can just pick up the phone and get a free lawyer consultation? The truth is that the caller never really gains anything except a quote for the representation of a case, if there is one.
Possible Reasons Free Consultations Exist
I suppose there are many reasons why attorneys offer free consultations. I know my reasons, which I’ll explain below. But, here are a few other reasons attorneys may offer free consultations (in my opinion).
- Sheep Mentality: Sheep like to follow the herd. Attorneys advertise free consultations everywhere probably because they see other attorneys do it, so they figure they should as well. The attorney’s SEO person thinks, “Hey, I’ll say that he does Free Consultations on his website to increase phone calls, then I’ll look good.”
- The Compassionate Soul: This could be the attorney that has so much compassion in his heart that he likes to sit in his office all day providing legal advice to non-clients for free. Maybe he is independently wealthy or he just doesn’t like money. Does he even exist? I don’t know the answer, but there are a lot of people out there looking for him and his free consultations.
- The Desperate Guy: This is a no-brainer. If a lawyer is so hard-up to get hired to actually practice law, he may be willing to sit on the phone for an hour discussing a non-client’s case hoping the client will pay him one day. At least he’s trying, I guess.
- The Newbie: The young attorney who is too naïve, intimidated, or scared to cut the caller off. Some callers get quite aggressive and will tell you their life story in one breath before the new attorney can even respond. In addition, due to his lack of experience, the attorney may not view his time as valuable, putting a non-client’s interests above his own .
What is the Free-Consultation Seeker Looking For?
There are many people look for a free consultation. Described below are the most common free-consultation-seeking individuals:
- The Entitled: Some people actually think that lawyers should give them free legal advice. They are usually so angry at the world and possess a feeling that everyone owes them. In their head, “the lawyer makes enough money, so he should be able to give his free time to help me.” The Entitled have little to no thought of what it is like to be that lawyer or to be like anyone else for that matter. They just want to take from others.
- The Confused: A person could be confused about a situation if he or she feels that they have a legal issue that has popped up in their lives. He or she may not know what type of lawyer to hire and if a lawyer is even necessary. The free consultation can be helpful as it provides clarification and direction to the right type of lawyer and if a lawyer is even necessary.
- The Do-It-Yourselfer: Everyone knows the do-it-yourself guy that thinks if he can learn to install floor tile in his bathroom by watching a YouTube video, then he can certainly learn how to write his own will or solve his legal problem. But, he knows that he has some missing pieces to the puzzle, so he will just call a lawyer and try to squeeze the answer out of him on the phone for free.
- Option-Weigher: If the charge is more minor, the caller may be calling around various lawyers to see weigh the cost of a lawyer versus just going into court and pleading guilty. You see this a lot with speeding tickets. They figure it’ll cost $250 to pay the ticket, but maybe “I can get a lawyer to do it for less and get it dismissed.”
- Option-Weighing Hustler: This person has already been through the system a couple of times and is debating if he should hire a lawyer or just go with the public defender. He will call lawyers to try to get them to give a free case evaluation and proceed to ask the lawyer if he thinks the case will resolve with ideal results. After he calls five lawyers, and they all have negative feelings about the potential outcome of the case, he will go with the free public defender and save his money on hiring a lawyer.
- Guarantee-Man: This person calls lawyers until one gives him a, ‘Yes’ to his question of “Can you guarantee my case will get dismissed?” Any lawyer who answers, ‘Yes’ to this question is practicing law unethically and should be disbarred. Believe me, after defending thousands of clients, I have a pretty good idea of which cases can get dismissed and which cannot. However, I would never guarantee a dismissal or any result in the case because I do not have a crystal ball to see the future. Many variables may affect a case such as the prosecutor or judge getting replaced, politics regarding the type of charge, victim’s desires, changes in the law, etc. Also, the caller could be lying to the lawyer during the free consultation telling the lawyer “his story” only for the lawyer to later learn of important details that were “left out.”
My Reasons For Offering Free Consultations
I offer free consultations in order to briefly evaluate the case and then determine my fee for representation. If you need to hire a lawyer for your case because you were arrested or received a summons, I will be happy to discuss your case briefly to determine if we can assist you in your case and to quote a fee for representation. The free consultation is not the time to provide every detail of the case and receive formal legal advice. Creating a defense strategy and giving legal advice is what we do for our paying clients only.
If you need a free consultation to see if we would be a good fit, feel free to give us a call or fill out the form on our contact page.
At the Barkemeyer law firm, we offer an alternative option to just hiring a lawyer for your case, which is a paid consultation. This alternative can be very helpful to the person who desires to have a good discussion about a situation, but doesn’t necessarily need to hire a lawyer. For instance, we may be able to help if you need quick advice about a situation you find yourself in, or you want to know if you should be worried about a potential arrest, or you want to know if you can get your background cleaned up, or maybe you just need help understanding the system. Importantly, everything we discuss is confidential. The benefit of paying for a consultation is that we will offer our time to listen in depth and provide you with the information that you need to move forward in your life.
Free consultations are offered by lawyers only to determine if we will take your case. They are not designed to give you free advice. Scheduling a paid consultation on our website is very easy and convenient by clicking the link. We offer availability early in the morning and on the weekends. All consultations are by phone for your convenience.