It seems that the term "Free Consultation" is often misinterpreted as "Free Advice" or "Free Answers." To put this in perspective, let's talk about those Plastic Surgeons who do face lifts, certain enhancements, and other "nip and tuck" procedures. Often, they will advertise on the Radio or in the Phone book, and offer a "Free Consultation." It is clearly understood that they will spend the time with someone looking to perhaps use their services in order to assess what, if anything, they can do for that person.
No one would think to call them, set up an appointment, go in, and say "I don't have any money for a face lift, but I was wondering what you thought about these over-the-counter skin-firming products?" In the same way, who would go into a car dealership, pull into the service area, and meet with a mechanic to describe a "funny sound" their car was making, then tell they guy "I don't have the money to have you fix it, but if you'll tell me what to do, I am going to try it myself."
Yet amongst those who e-mail us everyday, we get any number of those who either outright tell us they don't have any money for a Lawyer, or whose e-mail is obviously seeking advice and direction with no intention of hiring me to do the work. I have tried, until now, to at least provide some help to those who ask for it, but the pressures of economic survival and the limitations of my own time, multiplied by the sheer number of such e-mails and calls, requires me to write this article explaining why I can no longer take the time away from paying Clients to advise those are not, and will not become, paying Clients.
The success of this Blog has been wonderful. I have tried, within the articles I write, to be as explanatory and helpful as possible, and, to be honest, I have yet to run across anything even remotely close to the information-loaded site I have put up. The payoff has been that any number of potential Clients find that I am more informative than any other Lawyer they have encountered. In the end, after a "consultation," they retain my services. This is how I pay for the employees, their benefits, the utilities and this Blog.
In addition to simply putting up a lot of information, I have repeatedly pointed out that my Criminal Practice (with the exception of Driver's License Restoration Cases) is limited to Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties. Even those willing to hire me outside the Metro-Detroit area should know that I do not handle cases anywhere outside of the Tri-County area, with the possible, and limited exception of certain cases in St. Clair, Lapeer, and Livingston Counties. Of Course, I can handle License Restoration cases that have anything to do with the State of Michigan, because I am able to schedule all Hearings in the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division's Livonia Office. I likewise handle Bankruptcy Matters from Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, St. Clair and Sanilac Counties because all those cases are heard in the Bankruptcy Court in Detroit.
So my purpose in writing this article is so that I have something to attach as a reply to those inquiries which are not seeking a "Consultation," but rather have a question or questions, or otherwise seek some direction in a Case which I will not be getting hired to handle, or to those asking about a case pending outside of the Tri-County area
A little math may help. Say we get 4 or 5 such "free" inquiries per day. And say I spend about 10 to 15 minutes reading, thinking about and responding to each. That totals nearly a little more than an hour a day, and over the course of a week, another 6+ hours of work for which I am not paid. Think of it this way; if your boss asked you to stick around for an extra hour everyday after work to just help out non-customers, and told you that you wouldn't be getting paid to do it, how quickly would you sign up for that program? You do, after all, want to go home, spend time with your family, and maybe help out with homework or whatever else your job as a parent requires.
Of course, my "Consultations" are still free, but the term "Consultation" needs to be understood in terms of an exchange of information to see if my services and someone's legal needs are a good match, and if those services will be retained in order to benefit the person and help their Legal situation.