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The $50 Consult

by Carolyn Elefant on June 4, 2006 · 6 comments

in Business Models, Marketing & Making Money

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According to this post over at Larry Bodine’s Professional Marketing Blog, at least one firm isn’t following the conventional wisdom of charging what everyone else does – and they’re making money in the process.  As Bodine describes, Wessels & Pautch, a small, employment defense firm offers unlimited phone consults for $50 a month.  Not surprisingly, many of these small phone calls eventually morph into full blown matters that W&P is then asked to handle.

How would this work for your practice?

  • Susan Cartier-Liebel

    Carolyn,
    I don’t disagree with the majority of what you have written! You have to remember I primarily deal with newly minted attorneys graduating from law schools who have already been made to feel they are incompetent unless they work elsewhere first. They are having Career Counselors being dismissive of their ambitions and professors questioning their competence. Therefore, when they decide to open their own practice they will deeply discount their services not because they are trying to be competitive but because they are convinced they are not worth it. I don’t want to reinforce that inappropriate assessment. If you note in my column I state new solos should charge within a reasonable range of the prevailing rate…the operative word being “reasonable”. You consider a 30% variation reasonable. I don’t consider 30% deviation outside the prevailing range. So, you aren’t really disagreeing with me. My goal is for solos to recognize their value. If they understand and appreciate their value then they can charge those rates which promote a healthy business.
    Thanks for your insights.
    Susan Cartier-Liebel

  • Susan Cartier-Liebel

    Carolyn,
    I don’t disagree with the majority of what you have written! You have to remember I primarily deal with newly minted attorneys graduating from law schools who have already been made to feel they are incompetent unless they work elsewhere first. They are having Career Counselors being dismissive of their ambitions and professors questioning their competence. Therefore, when they decide to open their own practice they will deeply discount their services not because they are trying to be competitive but because they are convinced they are not worth it. I don’t want to reinforce that inappropriate assessment. If you note in my column I state new solos should charge within a reasonable range of the prevailing rate…the operative word being “reasonable”. You consider a 30% variation reasonable. I don’t consider 30% deviation outside the prevailing range. So, you aren’t really disagreeing with me. My goal is for solos to recognize their value. If they understand and appreciate their value then they can charge those rates which promote a healthy business.
    Thanks for your insights.
    Susan Cartier-Liebel

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    With regard to Larry’s post about the $50 consult…this is a GREAT idea but not new. Lawyers have been offering clients access for set monthly “retainers” for hundreds of years. I put the word in quotes because very often we forget where it came from & how our predecessors originally used the flat monthly fee system. It worked (and still works well) like this:
    A client who has regular or periodic but important need for legal services, pays “their” attorney a flat monthly retainer fee to guarantee access. Sometimes that fee entitles the client to a set number of hours at a discounted rate, other times it’s handled more subjectively and as long as everyone feels they are getting a fair deal this type of arrangement can be a cash-flow-smoothing win-win for all concerned.
    Obviously this type of arrangement is less appropriate (hopefully) for a personal injury lawyer, or someone with a niche divorce practice. But business transactional attorneys, litigators whose clients need alot of preventative maintenance, IP lawyers, even certain types of criminal defense practices can do very well by offering their clients the opportunity to add legal services as a line item to their monthly budgets.
    Thanks Larry for bringing this important business tool (back) to everyone’s attention!

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    With regard to Larry’s post about the $50 consult…this is a GREAT idea but not new. Lawyers have been offering clients access for set monthly “retainers” for hundreds of years. I put the word in quotes because very often we forget where it came from & how our predecessors originally used the flat monthly fee system. It worked (and still works well) like this:
    A client who has regular or periodic but important need for legal services, pays “their” attorney a flat monthly retainer fee to guarantee access. Sometimes that fee entitles the client to a set number of hours at a discounted rate, other times it’s handled more subjectively and as long as everyone feels they are getting a fair deal this type of arrangement can be a cash-flow-smoothing win-win for all concerned.
    Obviously this type of arrangement is less appropriate (hopefully) for a personal injury lawyer, or someone with a niche divorce practice. But business transactional attorneys, litigators whose clients need alot of preventative maintenance, IP lawyers, even certain types of criminal defense practices can do very well by offering their clients the opportunity to add legal services as a line item to their monthly budgets.
    Thanks Larry for bringing this important business tool (back) to everyone’s attention!

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