In Marketing for Lawyers Free is Bad

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Free is BadMost attorneys think offering a free consultation is mandatory. Free consultations are no bargain. Not for the lawyer and not for the client. Here’s why:

A Free Consultation Immediately Positions You Poorly

People believe they get what they pay for.  Affluent people and business owners keep this ideal present in their minds at all times.  Most people have this permanently ingrained in their psyche.  Charging nothing means you are worth nothing.

You Welcome Shoppers

There are a handful of people out there who would shop for a bargain in parachute repair.  If you want to meet with all of these people, do not charge for a consultation.  Free consultations welcome shoppers to your law firm.  You can be certain that if you do not charge people for an initial consultation, people will meet with you just to get a number out of you.

You Devalue Your Time

What is your time worth?  If you charge nothing it is worth nothing.  Not to you and not to your client.  It is that simple.

The Quality of Your Clients/Matters Decreases

If you want crappy matters, a free consultation is definitely the way to go.  Money tends to be an indication of how seriously someone is taking an issue.  If you are willing to spend $250 on something are you more likely to pay attention to the outcome?

You Take on Liability with No Upside

In a free consultation you will often dispense advice.  When you do, you expose yourself to liability. If the person sitting across from you implements your advice and things go badly, they will find you.  You do this with no compensation in return.

One of the arguments I hear all the time is: “It is customary in my practice area to offer free consultations.  Everyone does it.”  Following a majority does not always mean you are acting in your own best interest.  In fact, it probably means you are doing what the average industry professional will do.  Do you want to be average?

This decision should be easy.  When someone comes to your office to discuss a legal matter, they should pay you something.  That is one of the reasons you do what you do.  This is a business as well as a profession.  Treat it like a business.