Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common
For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.
I recently experimented with offering free consultations for all potential clients, something I have not done for well over a year. It was a spectacular failure. In fact, although I originally intended to offer free consultations for at least two months, and then assess the results, I got fed up with the cancellations and unprepared potential clients after only three weeks.
I “went free” during a dry spell, and hoped that offering free consultations would get the phone ringing again (metaphorically speaking; at least 75% of my potential clients contact me by email). Whether because of the free consultations or a bit of media exposure, potential client contacts did pick up slightly.
The problem with free consultations became apparent as soon as I signed up a half dozen or so. The first two scheduled an in-person consultation, but never showed up. I scheduled the next four–all phone consultations–for the same day. Not one of them had sent me documents to review, and two did not even have their documents nearby when I called.
Fed up, I switched back to paid consultations immediately, on a Wednesday afternoon. By the end of the day Friday, I had signed up five paid consultations. All brought their documents to the consultation, and two are now clients.
I don’t think charging for consultations discourages good clients; I think it keeps bad clients from wasting my time. Plus, when someone pays for my time, I can be their lawyer for 30 minutes instead of just telling them whether or not they have a case, and how much I would charge.
I do still give free consultations for potential contingent-fee cases, but I screen those potential clients carefully over the phone before I invite them to the office. During the in-person consultation, I usually spend at least an hour, often more, to make sure we can work together, and that I feel comfortable investing my time and money in the case.
(photo: Lori Spindler)