There are a few things people should know about consultations.
Sadly, they don't apply just to Rhode Island divorce consultations... rather it would seem that it is a trend that it applies to most free consultations involving any area of law. So what is it? It's the lack of good, solid legal advice.
Certainly this blog article sounds cynical. Here I am a divorce lawyer and of course I have my own opinion on things and I'm certain their are exceptions to my way of thinking and what I have witnessed... in fact, I am one of those exceptions. Yet I see very few attorneys who are quite like me.
You've heard the saying..."you get what you pay for", right?! Well, assuming for a moment that in a Rhode Island Divorce matter or any Rhode Island legal case for that matter that you have a "free" consultation that is given by a Rhode Island lawyer, what kind of advice do you think you are going to get from the attorney that is not getting paid for giving you valuable advice in the profession that is intended to put money on the table for him and his family and pay the bills. You can draw your own conclusions here. My answer is the simple one... you get what you pay for... you pay nothing... you get nothing.
Another consideration is how much time the Rhode Island Divorce lawyer is giving you during this "free consultation". Is he or she willing to answer all your questions? Does the attorney provide you with clear cut answers to the questions he or she will answer or do they muddy the waters and say that there are too many "variables" to give you a definitive answer without explaining what those legal variables even are?
Most people get a referral from a friend, family member, the internet or the yellow pages to find a divorce lawyer. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right? And there's nothing wrong with that. The second part of the process is usually to ask if the Rhode Island Divorce lawyer provides free consultations (at least in my experience my clients and prospective clients stated that they asked this during their search).
The bottom line is not only common sense but it is a practical answer. Attorneys give legal advice and representation to clients for their living. That is what puts the food on the table, pays for the car payment, keeps the kids in ballet and martial arts and pays the house mortgage. Now consider that if an attorney gives you legal advice that you rely upon and the attorney is wrong...the attorney has liability and it's entirely possible that they could have a malpractice lawsuit coming their way.
Now think about that. You are coming in the Divorce Attorney's office for a free consultation. The attorney is going to get NOTHING from this consultation and you will be taking up his or her time which is used to pay his or her mortgage, car, etc... AND...if the attorney actually does give you solid legal advice about your legal rights and happen to make a mistake when you rely on it, they have the joy of knowing that you can sue them for legal malpractice.
So what does this tell you about the attorney who offers free consultations if he or she is REALLY going to give you usable information? It tells you that you have one extraordinary attorney there.
Why? Because this attorney is going to take time with you for NO MONEY. During that time this attorney is going to give you valuable legal advice that should cost you $200 an hour. Then when you leave that attorney has to be certain that he or she was right otherwise the attorney could end up on the receiving end of a lawsuit for legal malpractice. And what did the attorney receive for that pleasure? NOTHING! No compensation! No guaranteed client!
So what is the moral of this article? Shop around. It is a very bad idea to cast attorneys aside who charge a fee for a consultation. If they are going to charge you a fee don't you think that the attorney expects to give you valuable information you can bank on? Absolutely!