In this competitive marketplace of legal services, we see many attorneys (myself included) offering “free consultations” in an effort to attract new potential clients. I believe that this approach is not the most cost-effective method of attracting good paying clients. Beginning the month of December, I will stop offering free telephone case evaluations and will charge a $25 fee for a 15-minute telephone consultation with an attorney. Why the change? The large volume of calls is significantly increasing my overhead and not attracting the right type of client that I would like to have for my firm. I gave this change a great deal of thought since I’ll be changing a policy that has been in place for ten years; however, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
Why this works for me
My practice concentrates in business law and in many cases a short telephone consultation could answer a legal question. Therefore, it does not make any sense to give away free legal advice in the “hope” to convert the prospect into a client. Although the call is free to the caller, there is a cost to my practice just for taking the call. As owners of law practices, we pay overhead every day just to keep the “lights on.” Furthermore, this “free advice” creates an attorney-client relationship with the prospective client which in some cases would conflict us out of another potential client. These two items alone justifies a fee for the call. I also believe that the client that is willing to pay $25 for speak with an attorney is a more committed client than one that is “shopping lawyers” for free advice. I also suggest that the conversion rate would be higher from clients that begin the client-relationship with a payment rather than those who receive the free consultation.
The implementation of this new program will be as follow: Prospect calls or send an online request for the 15 minute consultation. The prospect receives an email with a short contract to sign on the terms of the consultation and a link for online payment. Once the payment and the contract is received, the consultation will be scheduled. If the client schedules an office consultation (for an additional fee), the $25 is applied to this consultation or any other legal work the firm is hired to do. I expect some callers not to embrace this change and the number of consultations would initially decrease. In the long run, I believe this is the right approach to “systematize” the new calls for long term success. I’ll keep you posted…