How Much Do You Charge for an Initial Consultation?

Lawyer Charges What Per Minute???

I was reading with much amusement a number of blog posts about how much attorneys should charge for their time. I’ve seen arguments for years about why attorneys should and should not have flat rate billing. Likewise, I’ve seen attorneys argue that lawyers are not charging enough and why they’re charging too much.

Most lawyers who handle consumer style cases such as personal injury do not charge for an initial consultation. “Free Consultation” is the lawyer’s mantra. However, I have always advocated that an experienced lawyer should in fact charge heavily for their experience and their time. Psychologically, people tend to value a professional’s worth more if they have to pay for their time than if they can get it for free.

Lawyers on the other hand, raise the argument that if they were to charge for an initial consultation, then the client would simply go elsewhere knowing that there are 100 lawyers down the street who would quickly give away that consultation for free. That is a valid argument.

As an experiment, I decided to do something to test my theory. I signed up for lawyer directory where I posted that a consumer could have the first two minutes call for free. Thereafter, they would have to pay me $3,500 per minute to speak with me.

If you don’t think I went ahead with this experiment, I want you to click on the photograph to the right so you can enlarge it. Make sure to look down at the bottom of the photograph where you will see confirmed exactly what I just pointed out.

A lawyer’s free consultation offer does nothing to distinguish you from anybody else. In fact, it dilutes the entire attorney-client experience.

What real value does the consumer or client expect to receive knowing they can get free advice from anybody? The perception that by having to pay someone a sum of money in exchange for their experience and advice tends to have substantially greater value than those giving away their information for free.

Having said that, I have yet to see any consumer oriented attorney including personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers be able to change the tide and get consumers to fork over a substantial initial consultation fee. I include myself within that group.

However, one of the key ways I have used substantial consultation fees is to challenge a consumer who calls seeking my advice knowing from the outset he has no intention of hiring me or using my services. In that instance, not only do I request, but in fact demand, a very substantial consultation fee for them to come into my office and meet with me.

After looking at the photograph in this blog post and realizing I was semi-serious, do any of you believe that I’ve gotten any calls from potential clients who have seen the fee that I propose?

Let me know your thoughts and I’ll be happy to answer below.

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2 Responses to How Much Do You Charge for an Initial Consultation?

  • DebG. says:

    Yes, Gerry, I would be interested to hear how that experiment worked out for you :)


    PS there is no checkbox to be notified about other comments via my email?

  • It worked so well that I had no takers. I selected out of all interested potential clients. Maybe I should have raised my fee to $4,000/minute :-)

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I found Gerry’s approach to be a common sense approach to… what people are looking for. It’s not necessarily what we think our video should be, it’s really what people are searching for. Gerry’s made a study of how people search the web and what they need from lawyers and then he’s able to communicate that on video. That’s what I really found intriguing: the methodology by which we shoot the videos and the way that he communicates that methodology.

Joe Hanyon
MHK Attorneys