In part 1 of this article, I began explaining how my office does consultations (over the phone, right when a person calls, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.), and how they provide the opportunity for a person to evaluate whether my office is a good fit for his or her case, and for us to assess the caller. I also noted that I publish my prices, not only in the interests of transparency, but also so that we don’t waste time with anyone shopping for a bargain lawyer. We ended by promising to come back, here in part 2, and talk about how we do our consultations.
Understand this: a consultation is invariably a sales opportunity. If you want some kind of plastic surgery and have consultations with several physicians, it’s not because they’re bored and want to talk about medical procedures with strangers. This goes for just about anything. A free consultation is very much like a “free estimate.” Do you really think that lawyers look forward to bringing people into their offices for a “free consultation” so that they can answer all kinds of legal questions?
It seems pretty obvious that the ideal purpose of a consultation is for each party to size up the other in order to make a hiring decision. In the real world, though, this often becomes a kind of game where the person providing the consultation really “steers” the person toward making that decision before they leave.
Again, I don’t want to be treated that way, and I wouldn’t, in turn, treat anyone else like that.
It’s kind of like when you go into a grocery store, and everything is arranged to tempt you to buy more. It’s why staples, like milk and bread, are at the back, and not right up front, so you can’t make a quick in and out.
The “come in for a free office consultation” tactic is used to “hook ‘em and book ‘em.” Get the client into a chair, start getting some information, and make sure they sign a retainer agreement before they leave.
Personally, that’s the kind of treatment that would have me running for the door as a consumer, and I couldn’t imagine even trying it on anyone else.
That is the primary reason I do my consultations over the phone. There is no “magic” to dragging someone into the office to talk. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you can tell me just about everything I need to know over the phone and I can provide all the answers and information you need, too, so we both know if we’re a good fit for each other.
It’s the same for a driver’s license restoration or clearance case.
When we do a consultation, we often hear that we were more informative than all the other lawyers a person has already spoken with, combined.
I count on that.
We’re thorough. This isn’t about calling and telling us you were arrested for OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and us responding “bring us $4000 and we’ll get to work.” I expect to answer questions. We explain things in the way I’d expect and want them to be explained to me. I EXPECT to be the nicest and most informative office someone has contacted, and I’m never surprised to hear that.
If I want information about something, I’ll call a place of business. As a consumer, I will never accept a runaround. I get that a precise fee for some services can’t be quoted because the person has no idea what’s involved, but even then, I expect some kind of “ballpark” idea of cost.
In my practice, we can and do give an exact figure when we talk. It’s that simple.
Moreover, we really are nice people. As much as I’m in business to make money, we are honest. Make no mistake, being honest costs us money.
It would be very easy to tell a person what they want to hear. Everyone facing a DUI or criminal charge would love to hear that some lawyer can make the whole thing go away. Everyone who needs to win their license back wants to hear that it can be done. But that’s not how it works in the real world.
Look, I think I’m rather well spoken. You’ll never run into anything like this blog, nor anything that comes close, no matter how much you look. No lawyer will address you the way I am, right now, in this article. That will be every bit as true if you call my office. If I didn’t have a conscience, I’ll bet I could do a better job than anyone of making every case sound like I could beat it.
Except I won’t. I have that strong of a conscience.
No matter how much someone may want to hear something, all I can do is be honest. I live by the rule to treat others as you would wish to be treated. I have always said that the last thing I would ever want to happen is to have a surprised client turn to me and say something like, “But you told me….!”
No thank you.
When we speak with someone, we listen to them. This goes beyond the details of their case, and means listening to how they say things. I realize that nobody calls my office because things are working out so well. Some people are really upset when they call, and they need a little reassurance – not someone to scare them, and not someone with a bag full of promises that everything will just magically go away.
Instead, real people need an honest appraisal of what can really be done for them. That’s how we roll…
Because my team and I limit what we do, and to some extent, where we do it, I don’t worry about getting dragged into taking a case I’ll regret. One of the benefits of success is not having to take cases you don’t want. If I’m your lawyer, it’s because I want you as a client, not because I need your money.
That’s the way it should be. Anyone looking to hire a lawyer needs to check out their options. Read around, then check around. All of my consultations (I told you I’d repeat this) are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. We’re really friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions, explain things, and even compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you. We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.