In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, solo lawyer Joleena Louis shares her thoughts and experiences of discussing legal fees over the phone.
Last week in one of my favorite Facebook groups, Boss Lady, Esq., there was a very interesting discussion about whether solos should discuss legal fees over the phone. This is a very common question I receive from other solos and one I thought about extensively when starting my practice.
When I first opened my doors, the goal was to get potential clients to come in so I could sell them on my services before quoting a price. While this method worked for some, it mostly resulted in what I felt was a lot of wasted time.
Some people who really wanted to hire me simply could not afford my rates. While this was not a huge deal early on when I didn’t have a lot of clients, as my practice got busier it became frustrating to spend time on a consult (even a paid consult) that went nowhere.
Now, if a potential client’s ask about my rates, I give them a range.
For examples, I remember way back when I was planning my wedding and I was looking for vendors. I had a specific budget for each vendor and I didn’t have much flexibility. No matter how much I loved a photographer, 10k was not in the budget. So if that was their lowest package, I didn’t want to waste my time or theirs going to a consult if they were way out of my budget. I was wary of photographers who wouldn’t even give me a price range over the phone.
After that experience I had a thought, why not put myself in my potential client’s shoes? While I certainly can’t give an exact amount for a case over the phone, I think it’s only fair to give them a range based on cursory info they can provide at that time.
By giving a range I automatically weed out the people who absolutely cannot afford me. It saves us both wasted time and energy.
Also, after talking briefly about rates over the phone, people show up to the consultation ready to pay or with a plan to pay. By letting them know my fees in advance they have time to think about where they will get the money and how they intend to pay.
Many people pay during the consult and others within a few days after moving money around. I make this even easier by sending a sample retainer or fee agreement (with no numbers) that they can review in advance so we can discuss any questions at the consultation. Which also saves everyone time by being more prepared once the conversation starts.
Do you discuss fees over the phone? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!