11 Broadway, Suite 615 New York, NY 10004
There are several purposes of a consultation appointment, which may vary slightly depending upon your own situation. What happens at a consultation appointment will likely include:
Gathering all of the facts of your situation (where you explain what has happened to date and what your hopes are for progress and end result);
A full analysis of your case, including what legal options may be available to you;
A determination of whether there is something we as an office can do to assist you;
Explanation of likely timelines (our best estimate based on what we’re seeing happen with similar cases);
Explanation of the costs involved; and
Answering any other questions you may have.
There are certain things which simply aren’t the point of a consultation. Among the things we won’t do are:
Check over immigration forms that you’ve prepared yourself, or tell you how to complete immigration forms;
Give you checklists of materials and documents needed to file the case (if you decide to retain us to handle it, we provide a “Case Initiation Package” which includes lists of everything needed); and
Extend past the hour allotted simply because you were late. While we understand the difficulties and uncertainties of getting around in New York, it would be unfair to the next person scheduled to make them wait because you arrived late. However, schedule permitting, we often go longer than an hour simply to make sure all questions are answered and all possibilities are examined.
We charge $250 for a consultation appointment, payable at the time of the consultation (or before via check or credit card – LawPay or PayPal – if done by phone). If we determine after discussing your case that there is something we can do to help, and you retain our office to handle the legal work, we credit the Consultation Fee towards the future Legal Fee.
There are not only a great many lawyers but a great many potential clients – all with many questions which require time to investigate and to prepare a thorough, well-thought-out response. Many people genuinely seek to find the right lawyer for their case. Some seek confirmation of what they have already heard elsewhere (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion). Some simply want free legal advice.
If we always simply answered complex questions from clients free of charge, we would be unable to work on cases for clients who have actually retained us to handle real legal work. Further, when a client is considering a great many lawyers without narrowing down the field, the chances of being hired – and seeing a return on our investment of time – are relatively slim.
This is why we do charge a small fee – $250 – for an initial consultation, and credit that fee toward ultimate legal fees if we are retained. It prevents spending a great deal of time with people who have no ultimate intention of hiring us (those honestly seeking only a second opinion can then pay us simply for this), and those that are seriously considering retaining our services among only a few others tend not to balk at paying a small consultation fee. After all, if they do hire us, the consultation ends up being free (in the sense that they pay that much less for the legal work).
We allow at least one full hour – we can often go a little over if the issues involved require. In our experience, it will normally take almost a full hour to thoroughly hear out a potential client’s issues and concerns, respond to any questions, gather enough information to determine what options might be available & develop a recommended plan of action. Half-hour appointments simply don’t allow enough time, while it’s rare for a consultation of more than an hour to be necessary.