Like time-share shysters and ultra high-end restaurants, most lawyers prefer not to advertise their fees. Oh, many attorneys advertise their hourly rate, but that does not really help consumers, who have no idea how long a task should take.

Why not?

Sure, you have a better chance of getting a client to sign a retainer once they walk in the door, so many attorneys focus on that. But if potential clients already know what you charge before they walk in the door, your potential client:client ratio should approach 1:1.

Will you lose clients if you give up the opportunity to give your “spiel” to each one? I suppose that, in part, depends on your spiel.

I have seen criminal defense attorneys whose sales method seems to be scaring the hell out of potential clients, then trying to find out how much money the client could beg, borrow, or steal for a retainer fee. That is definitely harder to do through a website or phone book ad.

If, on the other hand, your strategy is to be straightforward, up front, and consistent, I think advertising your fees—to the extent you can—could only help. We’ll see, anyway. I am giving it a try to see how it goes.


  1. Avatar Kevin Whitaker says:

    Enjoying your posts and thoughts on alternative billing. It looks like it’s now been about five months or so under your experiment. What do you think so far? I also liked your explanation on negative contingency fees. I’ve been thinking along those terms as I’m seeing a growing need for an alternative arrangement (for certain cases) in this challenging economy.

  2. Sam Glover Sam Glover says:

    I am getting ready to do a post on this, especially in connection with my decision to go back to free consultations.

    I still think that advertising fees is a good idea, but I don’t know how many people actually look at them. Also, I can only be so specific. Variables like location, complexity, etc., can affect fees. But I try.

    Coupled with the consultation fee I was charging and the swell of potential client contacts since I dropped the fee, I think many potential clients were opting out. It remains to be seen whether some of those potential clients will become actual clients once they have a chance to meet me.

  3. Avatar William Chuang says:

    Just be aware about the New York ethics rules concerning the advertisement of fees. You already have an obligation to preserve ads such as your website, so I guess it’s not a big deal. However, just make sure you’ve considered the requirement.

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