Pros and Cons of Free Consultations

Pros and Cons of Free Consultations

As the law evolves and increases in complexity, finding the right lawyer to help you with your case can be a daunting task. Each case requires a unique approach, and it is important to be able to assess at the consultation stage whether the lawyer you’re speaking with is right for you. At this stage, you may also want to be presented with all the options available to you, so you can make an educated decision about the best way forward.

Your initial consultation with a lawyer will be their window into your world and will allow them to grasp the nuances of your situation. Armed with this knowledge, they will provide you with options and give you an idea of what the realistic outcomes may be.

What is the Difference between a Free Consultation and a Paid Consultation:

With a free consultation you are most likely going to be offered a 20-minute meeting with an associate lawyer and in some cases, a paralegal or articling student, during which you will receive an assessment of your case. Some firms may even do everything electronically where you submit an online inquiry or summary of your matter. You then receive a swift response providing an “opinion”.

With a paid consultation, you select the level of expertise of the lawyer you will meet with based on their consultation fee. You will be provided with a 60- or 90-minute consultation where your case will be assessed, risks explained, and strategies outlined.

When Does It Make Sense to Use Free Consultations?

There are usually two circumstances in which free consultations may make sense. The first is when you are trying to assess if you even have a case and is it worth paying for a consultation.  Sometimes a 5-minute conversation with an experienced lawyer can help you move forward to book a paid consultation where you will get in-depth information and strategies you require. The second situation is when you have a simple, straightforward wrongful dismissal cases, where there is a clear entitlement that can be easily quantified. The lawyer may be able to provide you with enough advice in the 20 minutes you are allotted to enable you to decide on your next step.

There are a few watchouts to consider when it comes to free consultations. The first is that you most likely do not know if you have a straightforward case to understand if a free consultation makes sense for you. You may ultimately need to book a paid consultation if your case is more complicated then you first thought.

Secondly, if you are not meeting with a lawyer, but with an articling student, the student cannot provide legal advice. They need to speak to a lawyer to obtain any legal advice for you. Thus, when meeting with an articling student, make sure they have reviewed your case with a lawyer ahead of time. Paralegals can advise on your legal options but cannot represent you in any legal setting, only in small claims court and at certain tribunals.

Finally, you may want to avoid free consultations that take place electronically. The problem with this type of “consultation” is that without reviewing all your documents and details, the “opinion” provided can be wrong. Unfortunately, you may only find this out after paying the lawyer hours of work that turns out to be worthless. If you had paid for a consultation where all your documents were properly assessed, you could have avoided this situation.

Why Should You Pay for Your Consultation?

Many cases are not simple. They may involve allegations of just cause, harassment, discrimination, or constructive dismissal, to name a few. They may also require detailed quantification of damages, such as in situations where overtime, bonus or commissions are owing. These are just a few of the instances that will require a lawyer to take a more in-depth look at your situation and the documents you have provided. In these situations, a 20-minute free consultation will not allow for proper assessment and advice.

In conclusion, some situations may be easily unpacked and analyzed in a short free consultation, while more complex scenarios will require a longer, paid meeting with a lawyer. At Whitten & Lublin, our goal is to provide you with an opportunity to embark on your legal journey with confidence. Your story is unique, and so is our approach to helping you find the resolution you seek. To book at consultation, please contact us online or by phone at 416 -640-2667.

Author – Carson Healey