How often do I get on the phone and spend 15-30 minutes explaining to a potential client their legal position, to end the phone call with, "How much does that cost?" Honestly, it happens nearly every phone call. And, I totally understand!
Today we can immediately go online and price shop for the best deal. When I go out shopping for baby clothes or toys for my son, my partner and I immediately price check products with Amazon. Why should it be any different for an attorney? Attorneys may argue that people should be more concerned about the quality of service they are being provided rather than the cost. That may be true, but its easy to say when you're billing at $300 plus an hour.
People should be cautious with what they are willing to spend, they should want to know what they are getting into. That being said bargain shopping for an attorney could be dangerous. If an attorney is willing to cut rates simply to beat the next attorneys pricing what else are they willing to cut? Think about any product you purchase... Sure you can get a better deal on a baby car seat if you go with a non-major brand, but is that the best decision?
As a potential client, people need to be cautious with the decisions they make. They need to understand what they are signing up for and understand that a quality attorney is going to know their worth and won't be interested in "cutting deals." That being said, a quality attorney also understands what a client can afford and offers pricing and options that give that client the opportunity to get what they need.
How do we do this? How as an attorney can we give clients what they need, while being price shopped and maintain quality of representation?
There isn't one answer to these questions there are many... But, I have chosen to make my billing as transparent as possible. If a client wants to know how much I charge for specific legal services they can view my fee schedule on my website. If the specific issue they face isn't listed I will give them a quote. If they want to "shop" for the best deal, I welcome that. I do not charge the lowest rates for my services, but my prices are competitive, and I know my worth! I want to give the conscientious potential client the opportunity to look into all of their options while being informed on the cost as well as the quality of work product.
In a time where the veil has been lifted and consumers can search for their best option with a click of a button, I think its time the legal community allow them to do so.