Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of searching for a lawyer is the lack of transparency over fees and retainers. The vast majority of lawyers refuse to publish their hourly rates and retainer fees. In my view, this practice is a disservice to lawyers and clients alike.
Clients are in the dark about a critical aspect of their decision-making process and lawyers are getting calls from potential clients who cannot afford their rates. Everyone’s time is wasted. I prefer transparency.
The Initial Consultation
I charge $200 for a half-hour consultation and $400 for a one-hour consultation–less than my hourly rate. Why do I charge for a consultation when some of my peers offer free consultations? Because I value my time. Most of the better lawyers in town charge for consultations. The reason is simple: Spending significant time during the day offering free legal advice is time I can’t spend servicing my paying clients.
Moreover, you will find that in many offices “free consultation” means a fifteen-minute meeting with a paralegal or junior attorney, not the lead lawyer. Some offices advertise “free” consults to lure you in and then simply charge the time spent during the consult to the retainer after you hire them. That’s not “free.”