I recently read an article about a Canadian Divorce Lawyer who charges $2,500 prior to his initial consultation. I could not tell from the article whether that amount was for the initial consult, of if he was charging a flat fee for the entire divorce case. But the article did describe a lengthy consultation process, including the completion of a survey, a multi-media presentation, and parting gifts for the client, including a 2 hour dvd, a cd-rom of the initial interview (with a disclaimer), and an indication of whether the client was a "A" Client (yes, we’ll take your case) or a "D" Client (Sorry, but here are names of other lawyers who might be willing to represent you.
While this certainly won’t work in most divorce practices, it does raise several questions:
- If an attorney charges a reduced fee or no fee at all for the initial consultation, is the attorney under-cutting herself?
- What is the purpose of the initial consult? Is it a "get to know you" or are you providing significant information and developing strategy?
- How do you handle the prospective client who might be "shopping", or worse yet, looking to conflict out attorneys from representing his spouse.
These are only a few of the questions which come to my mind.
Recently, I have had discussions with several lawyers and the question arises as to whether it makes sense to charge a premium for the initial consult. At least in my case, I spend 60-90 minutes with the new client, get a lot of information, give my 15-20 minute "shpiel" on the process, and begin to develop a strategy with the client. The client’s expectations are discussed and formed. It is very valuable time.
Not necessarily in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, but in some other locales, I have heard of initial consult fees ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Does this make sense? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.