Pros and Cons of Providing Prospective Clients with a Free Consultation

by Melanie Fischer on October 12, 2017

Time is money. Knowing this to be a valid statement, should you offer free consultations to prospective clients? Many solo attorneys struggle with the concept of offering a no-charge meeting to anyone and everyone who calls for a consultation.

In a perfect world, everyone who was provided with a free consultation would become a paying client. And the hour you spent providing a no-charge initial meeting would pay off in the long run. However, attorneys at small law firms know that not all prospective clients become paying clients. In fact, many seek free consultations because they think it will result in an hour of free legal advice – and then they are never heard from again.

From a solo attorney’s prospective, is giving a free consultation to prospective clients worthwhile? It’s difficult to answer this question. On one hand, giving a free consultation to everyone who calls your office can result in spending several hours a day meeting with people who may not hire you. On the other hand, people usually expect some sort of in-depth conversation with an attorney before hiring him or her. And, being asked to pay for an initial consultation can be a turn-off to many prospects.

Knowing there is an ongoing debate as to the advantages and disadvantages of providing prospective clients with a free initial consultation, it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons before making a blanket decision on the matter.

Here are a few reasons to consider offering a free initial consultation to prospective clients:

You do not have enough billable hours to fill your work day. If you are a new solo attorney or you are experiencing a slow period and you have time to spare, offering a free consultation to prospective clients might be a way to effectively grow your practice.

You want to “interview” prospective clients before agreeing to do work for them. A free consultation with prospects allows you to meet them in person, and evaluate if you want to work them.

You believe that a face-to-face meeting with prospective clients will give you a competitive advantage over other attorneys who may not provide a similar service. Most people appreciate the notion of a free initial consultation. If you offer this service, but your competitors do not, it’s likely that more people will choose you instead of an attorney who will charge them a fee for the first meeting.

You think that an in-person consultation shows your commitment to providing a superior level of customer service. Customer service is important in all industries. When people feel they are respected and treated well, they are likely to return for all their legal needs. A no-charge initial consultation is a good way to show your commitment to exceptional customer service.

If you think offering a free initial consultation to prospects is a good idea, but you’re not completely convinced that it will be a good use of your time, remember that you can always change your policy. Some solo attorneys offer a free consultation to people who were referred to them by a reliable source, but not to people who found their name and contact information on the internet. You might also consider charging a flat fee for an initial consultation that is lower than your normal hourly rate.




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