Solo From the Start

Beginning your legal career as a solo attorney

Periodically I get a question from a stranger at a party or from remote connections asking me to answer "a quick question." Usually it is related to custody or divorce (I write estate plans).

Last night a person whom I have never met sent me a message through Facebook asking a hypothetical question about a family law issue, but he didn't want to waste an attorney's time so he was asking me. I was angry. But why?

He, a stranger to me, violated my private space. I keep my Facebook friends' list narrow because it is my forum for sharing stories with friends. It's for the grandmas to see video clips from kiddo's game or antics.

But let's talk about this man's actions (at first I typed entitlement.) He asked a stranger a hypothetical question seeking legal advice and did it through Facebook because he didn't want to "waste a lawyer's time." He was wasting my time because he wasn't willing to pay me or any other attorney for the answer.

An acquaintance's doctor father, when asked at parties, would say "well pull your pants down and let's take a look." It took me four years to make my answer to role off my tongue: My consultation rate is $xxx and I'm happy to set up an appointment.

Don't answer questions in those situations. Not only could you be committing malpractice, it took you at least 7 years and an immense amount of effort to learn that answer. If you want to give free advice, make sure you have all the proper details, run your conflicts' check, make sure they aren't already represented, etc.

My product that I sell is my advice and knowledge. I choose when I will give away my product