I think most people like to know up front what something is going to cost them. If you need new windows, you’ll get a company to come out and check the job and give an estimate for replacement windows. If your car needs repairs, a mechanic will normally inspect the car and give you an estimate of the cost to repair it. And you’ll probably want to know what a medical procedure will cost you out of pocket before having it done. So, it should come as no surprise that most people with legal issues turn to an attorney for a free consultation before retaining them for their case.
I have always wondered how accurate most estimates are. Does the contractor estimate on the high side so you won’t have any surprises in the end or does he estimate on the low side to get your business? Sure, you get an itemized bill at the end, but how much of that is real? Lawyers really can’t do that. When you go into a lawyer’s office for a free consultation, you are asking the attorney if your case is valid and how much it will cost. Your lawyer has lots of experience and will know if you have a case or not. Your attorney has set fees for filing paperwork, cost per hour and other court fees. The attorney can give you a good estimate of what the entire case will cost, including his or her retainer fee.
One way to get the most out of your free consultation is to bring all your paperwork in with you to the consultation. If you walk in unprepared and just ask general questions the lawyer will not have all the information to tell you whether or not you have a good case. Bring in any documentation you have. Bring any expenses you will need reimbursed. Bring in any police reports and witness statements that will help the attorney visualize the event. Bring medical records if there were injuries and work statements if any work was lost due to the incident.
So, the answer to the question about getting the whole story in a free consultation would be “it depends on whether you come in prepared or not.” You will get out of it what you put in it. Do your homework before scheduling a free consultation.