WOW – what a profound statement, huh? No one ever thought of that before – I’d bet money on it!

OK – sarcasm outburst is over. Now on to the topic at hand.

I needed advice. Advice of the legal variety. Nothing big, just some advice on a matter that has been going on and needs to come to an end. Something I no longer feel equipped to handle on my own. Something that someone with a juris doctorate could handle with a few phone calls or letters. It would merely be to clean up someone else’s garbage so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

Today, the first attorney’s office I contact wanted $175 for the inital consult. In full. No payments. Cash in hand (or maybe credit card). One hundred and seventy five bucks. Just to chat. Just to see if they could help me. Without drawing up any documents except maybe a few scribbles on their legal pad.

Now – I only broke into this freelance gig a while back. I’m no Bill Gates (I do dream big, however). That kind of money to me is called “real money.” I can’t just reach in my pocket and whip out hundred dollar bills like they are pocket change. My wife works in social services. Anyone out there aware of the social service salary structure knows that millionaires do not usually come from the rank and file of social services. Plain and simple – WE AIN’T RICH!

In the old days – say, last winter when I needed advice on another matter of enough significance to speak to an attorney – the initial consult was free. You know, nothing. Nada. Zilch. The big goose egg. Zip. I paid nothing as I left. I didn’t hire the guy – I got my advice and ran with it. Thank you very much and Happy New Year to the kind gentleman lawyer that answered my questions. He was no worse off for it and I got the wisdom I needed. I’m sure he is making plenty of money handling cases for bigger fish than me. For me, I cost him a page on a legal pad – he didn’t even have to sweat.

So – to all attorneys out there – let me spell this out for you. We are still in a recession. Money is still pretty hard to come by these days. If all you are going to do is listen to someone to decide if you want to take their case, keep the idea of the free consultation alive. Why should anyone earn a red cent for not even really working for a client until REAL work is done? You could be practicing your ABC’s on that legal pad as far as I know. You might be listening to me and then say at the end of the visit, “sorry, my firm doesn’t take these kinds of cases, please pay as you leave.” I’d love to say “screw you,” but then I’d really need a lawyer to handle the lawsuit for non-payment!

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