Quite often, our firm receives telephone calls from prospective clients who are looking for a lawyer who offers the first interview free. As a standard rule, our firm does not offer first interview free, and in some situations, this is the difference between a client going to an alternate firm.
Is it really the smartest way to decide which lawyer can best look after your needs by simply determining it on the basis of who gives the first interview free? We don’t think so.
For most areas of law, our first interview with clients is very intensive. In regards to family law, for example, if there are issues regarding the children, we take the time to fully understand the dynamics of the situation, the parenting skills of the parties, the ongoing work commitments of the parties to help you to work out what might be an appropriate parenting arrangement that would be in the best interest of the children.
If it is a property matter, we take great care to obtain all relevant details in regards the current assets, details of contributions each party made and what future need factors might be relevant upon a settlement. There are often a lot of urgent issues that a lawyer needs to take care to give you appropriate advice, such as who will pay the mortgage? Who will pay the current utility bills? etc. A large amount of advice is given in that interview, and for that reason, it is not for free. However, where possible we try to be as reasonable as we can in terms of the amount of time you are charged for that first appointment.
Prior to making your appointment, we are very clear about the hourly rate of the solicitor whom you are seeing, so there are no cost surprises on the day, or in the future. We also give you detailed costs information, so that you understand our costing structure moving forward.
We would want you to be happy as a client, and therefore, no surprises. We are shocked to see that a lot of clients who initially go to firms who might offer a first interview free option, later come to us and the invoices that they have received a quite astounding.
The hourly rate that they have been charged by other firms for ongoing work is significantly higher than what we charge. They also charge for a lot of items of work that we would never consider charging a client, such as reviewing a file, opening a file etc.
In addition to that, you have to be very careful to make sure that you carefully understand what hourly rate a solicitor is charging you. There are many law firms that will have an hourly rate that is advertised, but in addition to that they charge an extra percentage, even as high as 30% for their care skill and attention. Therefore, you need to factor that in when you look at the hourly rate. We certainly do not do that and when you see our hourly rate, that is exactly what it is.
Choose the best fit for your needs
Therefore, when you are choosing your solicitor, chose the solicitor that you think is the best fit for you long term. Do they have the lawyers that have the expertise in the area that you need? Have you been given a recommendation for that solicitor by a family member or friend, or been drawn to them by their website?
We consider ourselves to be a genuine local law firm, looking after the legal needs of our community for decades. We are upfront with our costs, as all law firms should be. Don’t just pick a lawyer based on the first interview price, look at the long term costs, and you will find we are very reasonable.