In our efforts in promoting our firm, looking for clients, and new ways to interact with potential clients, I have noticed a common theme: A lot of people are looking for legal advice, but they think they can’t afford it. I can understand that- lawyers can be expensive.

Consider the Aska Lawyer Q&A section at I’m on Avvo, I think it’s a great tool for lawyers to make information available to potential clients, and other lawyers alike. The Q&A section is also a great way for a lawyer to show what they know, or to game Avvo’s rating system- the latter is pretty easy to spot. Unfortunately the answer to almost every question I see is “talk to an experienced lawyer.” That’s the lawyerly answer.

That lawyerly answer is probably the right one most of the time. I can think of a few people that don’t mind putting their personal business all over the internet. For most of us though, we want to give what we think is enough information to get an answer, but not every last personal detail. From a lawyer’s perspective I can tell you this- I don’t like to give advice unless I’ve got the whole story. But guess what, I’m willing to hear your story for free. I’ve talked my way out of representing someone on more than one occasion. You know what? I’m ok with that. I want to find out if someone really needs my help, or if paying for my time is worth it to the potential client. I don’t mind telling someone “you don’t need a lawyer for that, you can handle it.” But I know that creating your own estate plan, or trying to handle a  probate matter alone isn’t a good idea.

More times than not when I’m with friends and family and someone wants to give me the bullet points I usually ask them to come to my office so I can get the whole story. I’m usually asked “how much is that going to run me?”  This is usually the first answer I am completely comfortable giving. Nothing. It costs nothing for an initial consultation.  I want to find out if I’m the right lawyer for you, and if you’re the right client for me, we’ll be working together, after all.

It’s taken some time, but I’ve gotten some of my repeat clients to call, email or instant message me from our website that question: “How much would cost for you to do something like this for me?”

When we’re in the store we don’t mind asking the price of an item, so why should you hesitate to ask your lawyer for an estimate? I can tell you quickly how much an estate plan will cost, how much a trust costs, or how much I’d charge to handle probate. I may not be able to give you an absolute answer for the cost to handle every legal issue right away, but I can usually give you an estimate pretty quickly. John and I both like predictability in our own lives, so we like to use flat fees whenever we can, although some matters are impossible to estimate and hourly fees are still appropriate.

It’s no secret that law is a profession, more often than not we simultaneously hold lawyers in the highest, and lowest esteem. My profession may have earned its reputation, but that doesn’t mean I have to think and act like a stereotypical lawyer. Everyone wants to get paid for the work they do. I want to make sure that what I’m offering to the client is a good value. Call or email us to find out if we can help you with your legal issues, or how much a specific service might cost- we won’t charge you for the call or the email.

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