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Solo In Chicago

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Initial client meeting billing?

How do people handle these?

There was a good discussion recently on one of the listservs I frequent on the subject. This is another topic I think that in the "start-up" fever I gave short shirk too and now want to think about again. And I want to talk in the context of the non-contingent fee type representation. I do NO contingent fee work, but it's my understanding that in your various PI, Med. Mal. cases where big settlements/verdicts are possible, almost everyone does free initial client meetings.

The common issues that were raised:

**Should you charge anything?
**Should you charge your normal hourly rate or a lower "initial meeting" rate?
**Flat fee?
**How is your policy communicated to the potential new client?
**How is payment handled?

My policy thus far (and I'm mainly talking about family law cases here) has been to offer a free initial 30 minute meeting. I think I'm going to change. That's a lot of unrecovered time/money for me. Main reason? I think free initial meetings attract lower income clientele. That's my experience. I wouldn't go to my lawyer or accountant and not expect to pay them for their time. But I think at a certain socio-economic level this isn't understand and they always have their hand-out.

So my 2007 new meeting procedure will be: always present client intake form to client pre-meeting with fee on page and signature line; charge $75 flat fee for initial 30ish minute client meeting.

How does everyone handle this issue?

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