I am a big fan of the Dos Equis commercials and the “Most Interesting Man in the World.” And although I do not drink beer, if I did it might be Dos Equis.
Among my favorite of these commercials is the “Most Interesting Man in the World on Going Dutch.” His words of wisdom, “You usually get what you pay for.” This is one of those truisms in life that we all know, but we too often forget.
You get what you pay for applies to a lot more than dates; it applies to anything for which we might be expected to pay, including professional services such as those of an attorney.
Thanks to the personal injury bar and their relentless “Free Consultation” advertising, most people have come to believe that every attorney does free consultations. This is far from true.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “a lawyer’s stock in trade is his time”. We attorneys sell our time. Personal injury attorneys are willing to give up this initial time because they are fishing for good cases using a large net. They need to sort through the lousy screen cases carefully to find ones worth taking that are not frivolous. Their economic model is built around this. With a one-third contingency fee arrangement, this model works well for them. Their economic model is premised upon the payday at the end of a case paying for all the free consultations they had to do to find the case that was worth their time. This is not meant to be any disrespectful to my friends and peers who practice personal injury law. They run the risk of putting a huge amount of work into a case and not getting paid. This is why they want to properly screen cases through consultations and why they can do these for free.
For domestic relations attorneys, and just about every other type of attorney, this is not our economic model. We sell our time. Occasionally in a single appointment we give the client the information they need or help to resolve their problem. If we did not charge for these consultations and give away our product we are not going to be in business long.
With this in mind, people should not expect free consultations from attorneys in divorce or custody matters or any other domestic relations matters.
What you will get for you money in a good domestic relations consultation is a crash course in the law as it applies to your case. An attorney will help you identify the legal issues that you face as well as help identify the legal options that you have. Many times this will determine the course of a case. This is by far more than a personal injury consultation where the only issue is identifying a meritorious injury case.
What you will get for you money in a good domestic relations consultation is a benefit to you, not the attorney. Free consultations are for the benefit of the attorney. Remember, you get what you pay for. So expect to pay an experienced domestic relations attorney their regular hourly rate for their time when you schedule a consultation. In return they will apply their years of experience and training to give you the information for your specific circumstances. It may well be the best money that you spend.