I was 2 years at the Bar when I asked my colleague what if our office charged as low as N500 for consultation fees, then we would have an extra source of income to pay for the office service charges, cable, and electricity bills and also do some interior upgrade.
Before then, I heard that Gani charged about 1m as consultation fee to meet with him personally. I didn’t bother to verify or confirm the story, but I knew consultation fees were something I could do. Besides, lawyers are consultants. If our doctors collect it from us EVERY TIME we visit their office, then I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t upgrade my services to do so.
The first time I was able to charge for consultation fees was about 5years after I discussed the issue with my colleague. I told my office secretary that if anyone insisted on seeing me, she should first collect the minimum of 5k consultation fee from them. In reality, what I have collected from clients as consultation fees have been between 2k to 10k from walk-in clients and I have collected more from those who I had to give an invoice (we would come to using invoice later).
It would interest you that my other colleagues in the office do not collect it, but I do. My secretary knows that if you want to see Alright, you have to pay first unless I give her pre-information of your coming AND waived it for you.
Today, many clients meet us online via social media and through phone calls. Collecting consultation fees from them is what I am still developing. However, it is easy to get it from those who enter the office. The trick is simple – I usually tell people to tell me everything by a phone call or email, but if they insisted on meeting me in person or coming to my office, then consultation fees would be requested at the front desk. Many times, after listening to their phone call and email, and I know that they are within my jurisdiction, I still require that they visit the office for proper briefing – and they would have to pay for consultation of course.
Has it worked? Yes, it has. Right now, although I have started charging for legal advice via phone, email, Facebook and Whatsapp, I am yet to be able to start collecting consultation fee first through these means of attending to clients. However, I think I do, because instead of you to pay first before I listen to you when you come to my office, I listen to you first and tell you to pay for the legal advice that I would give.
Sometimes, I finish listening on phone or email or Whatsapp, give the BASIC counsel and also give charges for that counsel. I could say “if you had walked into my office, you would have paid so and so amount as consultation fee and so and so amount for legal advice. However, you are free to pay what’s convenient for you.
Gone are the days when people will walk into your office and you would be sure that they have become your clients. Today, they go round several offices before making a choice (if they ever do as they may have known how to navigate the issue without paying a lawyer). If we are not careful, we would end up giving free legal counsel for what people ought to pay for.
So it is simple, even if it is via Whatsapp, and the person is your friend, tell them you would have charged them for consultation before listening to them, however, you wouldn’t, but you are open to whatever they feel your time and reply is worth. Trust me; they would be emotionally compelled to regard you in high esteem.
Tomorrow is Wednesday, June 10, 2020, and I hope to bring you more business tricks.