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Why we charge a nominal fee for your legal inquiry?

by St. Petersburg/Florida Family Law Attorney on 04/23/17

Attorneys (especially those that practice in Family Law, Landlord-Tenant and Small Claims) generally offer free consultations. We know this because up and down every single webpage you have searched, you will see the words “free consultation” appear on an attorney's website. But have you really thought about what that means? What is so special about a free consultation and what do you get out of it? Are you receiving legal advice? Is it simply an opportunity for the attorney to give you a quote of his or her fees? Are they rushing you out of his/her office? Or is it something different altogether? 

The answer to these questions depends on which of the attorneys you consult. Let me take you through what many lawyers offer in their free consultation. You may be surprised to learn that sometimes you won’t even speak to an actual attorney. Instead, some divorce attorneys have their secretaries or paralegals (which isn’t much better) take the new client consultation and, even though it is unlawful, have that secretary or paralegal give legal advice. So, what do you get from most lawyers?

  • - You contact them for help
  • - They immediately ask you about your financial ability to pay their fees
  • - You can either pay their fees or you can’t
  • -They set an appointment for you to come into the office if you can afford their attorney’s fees
  • -At the in-person consultation, they spend a few minutes with you talking about their fees and asking you to sign a retainer agreement.

What exactly did you get out of that “free consultation”. Did you get helpful tips related to your family law case? Did you get direction? Someone to listen to your questions and concerns and answer them? Or did you simply learn what that attorney charges for every case, including yours, and were given a quote?

We treat your initial consultation differently than the far majority of our colleagues because it’s not really a consultation – it’s a strategy session. We charge a reasonable and affordable fee but here is what you can expect from it:

  • When you call, I will immediately set an appointment for you to see one of our family law attorneys.
  • The fee for the strategy session varies depending on the issues. It can be as low as $25.00 to $100.00 for 60 minutes.
  • During the appointment, the I will obtain information regarding (assuming it's a Family Law inquiry) your marriage, separation, your financial issues in the divorce case including child support, alimony and equitable distribution, whether you have a case pending or anticipating to file.
  • I will then ask you about your goals, questions and concerns that you have. I won’t rush you, as I like to take my time going through these issues with you.
  • I will then ask you questions about any concerns we have concerning your pending or anticipated filing.
  • Only then will I begin to discuss not just what your fees may be but also what your budget should be for a case like yours. I am not a cookie-cutter lawyer.  I will also discuss whether an attorney fee motion is appropriate in your case.
  • If you are ready to retain right then and there, I will start the paperwork. If you need time to think about it, no problem. Either way, once you retain me, I will usually apply the consultation fee you paid toward your retainer. For example, let’s say the fee was $100.00. Let’s also say the retainer to start on your case was $750.00. You don’t pay $750.00. You pay $650.00.

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