Why don’t you do free consultations?

Posted on Jul 18, 2018 by Katie Carter

Why don’t you do free consultations?

We get phone calls all day long asking about free consultations and pro bono legal services. It’s understandable. Facing a divorce or custody case is a pretty scary thing, and there aren’t court appointed attorneys to help in these types of cases. You may have heard all those Miranda warnings issued on courtroom TV dramas where they end with, “if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

But that doesn’t apply in family law cases. In fact, it only applies in criminal cases where a person’s liberty (as in, jail time is an option) is at stake. That probably doesn’t make sense to you. After all, what’s worse than potentially losing your children, or continuing to be abused by the legal system after the years of abuse you’ve suffered at your husband’s hands? I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying I agree. All I’m saying is that our government does not offer court appointed attorneys for family law cases.

I want a free consultation.

There aren’t many family law attorneys who do free consultations. In fact, I can’t think of any off of the top of my head, so I don’t even know what direction to point you in, if that’s the major determining factor when it comes to selecting an attorney to represent you.

Perhaps the best place to start is Legal Aid. Of course, you have to qualify financially for Legal Aid assistance, and they generally don’t take contested cases.

Why? Well, contested cases cost a lot of money, and take up a lot of attorney time. The attorneys at Legal Aid are already spread tremendously thin, and they can’t afford to channel too many resources towards one client, especially if that same amount of resources could be used to help ten other clients with less contentious situations. It’s a simple cost benefit analysis.

Even if Legal Aid doesn’t take your case, though, it can help point you in the right direction and give you some information about your next steps. Take whatever you can get from Legal Aid, because it’s the least expensive way to get solid legal advice (at the least) and legal representation (best case scenario) in your family law case.

There’s really no free lunch, though, I’m sorry to say.

What free help CAN you give me? Do you take cases pro bono?

We don’t take cases pro bono, as a rule. Like most other attorneys, what we do on the pro bono side of things are smaller court appearances – the occasional protective order as part of our work with the CLASS (Concerned Lawyers Advocating Spousal Safety) program in the Virginia Beach Juvenile Court as part of our attorney’s memberships in the Virginia Beach Bar Association, as well as our speaking engagements at monthly divorce seminars and quarterly custody seminars. Attendance at our seminars isn’t free, but our programs aren’t profit generating. The fees we charge cover our space rental, the printing of workbooks and other information, refreshments, and so on. Our attorneys generously donate their time, and receive no compensation for the legal advice and guidance they provide at our seminars.

As far as free information goes, we try to make sure to provide as much as we can. We offer free books on divorce and custody too, as well as a number of really awesome free reports on a variety of different situations.

Our consultations aren’t free, and we can’t take on entire cases pro bono. It’s logistically too difficult, and it impacts the premium level of service we can offer to our paying clients. We’re not insensitive to your situation, though, (in fact, that’s why all of us practice family law representing women only – we’re SO sensitive to it!) and we’ve made a real effort to make sure that we can provide you with as much information as possible to make your decisions moving forward.

But what DO I get for my $285?

An initial consultation with one of our attorneys is $285, and it’s chock full of a TON of information.  Personal injury attorneys and others often offer free consultations, not so that they can give you a ton of legal advice, but so that they can decide if your case is going to be financially worth it to them to take.  That’s now how we approach it.  Like I said, we can’t take a percentage of your settlement; we’re just there to help guide you to the best decisions, and ultimately to craft the best possible divorce.  Our consultations last up to an hour, where we’ll make sure all of your questions get answered, and help you come up with a plan moving forward.  We explain the process and everything that’s involved, so that you walk away feeling more like you understand what you’re up against, too.

Whether you decide to hire our firm to represent you or not, we want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make these big decisions. We don’t offer free consultations or take on cases pro bono, but I think you’ll find that we provide the most information for Virginia women facing divorce and custody cases of anyone else in the Commonwealth.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.