The Real Cost of Legal Advice

Many people call legal offices with the idea that they just have a "quick legal question," with the seemingly innocuous idea that if they make it sound effortless, lawyers will be more than happy to dole out their legal opinion and views on the issue.  Lawyers love to talk, after all, so why wouldn't they love to listen to a non-paying client's personal problems and offer free words of wisdom? How this trend began I do not know; people do not expect this of other licensed professionals (read: doctors, psychologists, dentists, veterinarians).  It is not questioned that these professionals will be paid for any services that customers seek from them.  So why the assumption that lawyers can give out free legal advice? Simply put, all that is needed for legal advice to be given is a law degree and a conversation.  No in-person interaction is needed anymore with the advent of various communication forms, so without realizing the implications, people often believe that lawyers can easily provide a simple solution to any problem in a matter of minutes over the phone.  

Legal analysis takes time; there is a reason the bar exam is a minimum of 12 hours long.

The commercialization of "lawyering" by way of television shows and legal websites gives the public the wrong impression of what we do.  The law is never "simple" and no problem, no matter how quickly one can relay it verbally, can be solved in a matter of minutes.  Law schools do not include mental encyclopedias when they hand out law degrees.  Lawyers are trained to think and analyze in certain ways, to research properly, and to identify and understand legal issues. We are unfortunately not magicians and cannot wave our legal code books to make a problem go away.  Perhaps some lawyers will give out free and quick legal advice over the phone, but those lawyers most likely have not taken the proper time to thoroughly analyze the problem from every angle in order to ensure the the best solution is presented, not to mention the fact that they are putting their law license on the line for a non-paying client.  Legal analysis takes time; there is a reason the bar exam is a minimum of 12 hours long. The law is not for the faint of heart and it shouldn't be treated as a cheap commodity rather than a respected profession that, when used properly, can provide clients with the representation and sound legal advice that they need to navigate life's problems.

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