In the employee-rights legal field, it is common for attorneys to charge initial consultation fees in the hundreds of dollars. Some attorneys offer free consultations, although that depends on the attorney, their availability, the type of matter, etc. Such an attorney may set conditions on a free consult, e.g. it can only be by phone, or be under a certain time limit, etc.
My own practice at present is to not charge a fee for initial email or phone communications. During those initial communications, I try to give a worker a sense of whether there are potential legal claims or issues I could assist with, and if so, whether it is the type of matter for which I could represent the worker on a contingency-fee basis, on another basis involving out-of-pocket fees. But after the free initial communications, there are some matters for which I provide hours of advice, and charge hundreds of dollars for that advice.
Say an employee rights attorney wants to charge you by the hour for an initial office meeting, which may total several hours and, per market rates, may cost $150 to $500 or more.
Is such a fee worth it? My answer is yes. But I come from the biased perspective of an attorney who is paid fees. (Incidentally, most of my fees do not come from my worker-clients; the majority of earned fees come from via long-term litigation and contingency payments from opponents). What matters about a consult fee is YOUR sense of value, and what YOU think of an attorneys’ reasons for that fee. My reasons as to why a consult fee is worth it are listed below.