When you have a family law concern, like a divorce or custody dispute, looming, it's natural to be concerned about managing your expenses. Many family law attorneys advertise "free consultations." When you're searching for a lawyer, why wouldn't you choose a free consultation over one for which you have to pay? A few familiar sayings can help explain why you should be cautious of "free consultations," and why Mundahl Law doesn't offer them.
The old adage is true in this case: you really do get what you pay for. In most cases, a free consultation is meant to be informational: to tell you about Minnesota divorce in general, not to give you specific advice about your case. If you're looking for a lawyer, chances are you have an urgent legal issue about which you have questions. You need to know if you and your children will be all right at the end of the legal process. In a divorce situation, you may be wondering about whether you will be able to afford to keep your home, whether you will be able to receive (or have to pay) spousal maintenance, whether you can get custody of your kids. These are serious concerns that affect your future, and that of your children.
A lawyer offering a free consultation is not going to give you the answers or advice you really need. Doing so puts him or her at risk by potentially creating an attorney-client relationship, and offers the attorney no benefit. So the likelihood is that a free consultation will end in frustration and wasted time for you.
If an attorney does give you advice in a "free consultation," consider that it is based a very brief discussion. The attorney has not had the time to get to know you or all the particulars of your circumstances. This free advice could steer you very wrong and lead to legal outcomes that may take thousands of dollars and many years to reverse—if they are reversible at all.
Rarely is this saying more true than in a legal setting. If your spouse or co-parent has filed a lawsuit or motion that could affect your rights, you may have only days to respond. If you fail to respond within the time limit given, the other party will probably get what they are requesting, whether or not that is fair in light of all the facts.
In these circumstances, you may not have the luxury of time to sit through consultations that don't address your urgent legal needs. If spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, or property division are on the table, the financial stakes are very high. If child custody or parenting time are in question, much more than money is at risk. You don't need a presentation or a face-to-face infomercial; you need an experienced, dedicated attorney protecting your interests now.
Free consultations are a way for attorneys to get potential clients in the door to sell their services. But they are often a waste of time for prospective clients, who don't get the advice they are seeking, and for attorneys, who may devote hours to free consultations before bringing in a paying client.
If time were unlimited, that might not be an issue. But, of course it is, which means that if an attorney is spending a lot of time giving free consultations, the clients who have already retained him or her might be getting short shrift. Imagine yourself, not in the position of someone who might get a free consultation, but as someone already paying an attorney. Do you want your lawyer to spend time drumming up business from someone else, or working on your case?
At Mundahl Law, we are committed to conserving our clients' time and resources and to protecting their interests. We are willing to forgo the clients we might be able to retain by offering free consultations in favor of being able to offer customized, timely, trustworthy service to the clients we already have. Attorney Susan Mundahl has nearly thirty years of experience in Minnesota family law matters. Charging a reasonable fee for an initial consultation allows her to focus her skills on the issues of clients who need and value her experience, rather than diverting that attention to individuals seeking free legal advice. The vast majority of Mundahl Law clients who paid a consultation fee consider it money well spent, as it allowed them to be confident in their choice of attorney.
We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee to allow prospective clients to get guidance that is meaningful to them at a fair rate and to have a chance to decide, at minimal risk, whether Mundahl Law is the right law firm for them. We invite you to contact us to learn how we can help you.