In a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bugs dares Yosemite Sam to step over a line he’s drawn in the sand. When Sam does so, Bugs draws a new line.
On and on they go, up a hill. You know Bugs is going to wallop Sam eventually (and he does) but the gunslinger keeps crossing the line.
We draws lots of lines in the sand, especially at the beginning of the lawyer-client relationship.
Lots of lawyers give a free consultation. I know I do.
We draw a line in the sand, and tell people they can walk up to the line without charge.
Beyond the free line is where the meter starts running.
Maybe the line is 30 minutes, or an hour, or maybe it’s not time-based at all.
On the free side of the line, you’re talking about generalities of the person’s situation. Once they cross the line, they’re getting ideas about solving their problems.
Do you stop people when they hit the line, or do you move it just a little bit?
Do you answer a little question and then, unable to stop the next one from coming, the one after that?
By the end of the consultation, have you mapped out your solution to the person’s problem?
When we do this, we steal our own value. We’ve given the answer at no cost, leaving only the implementation to be handled. In all but the most difficult of circumstances, that implementation can probably be handled by someone else.
Even if you’re the one to implement the solution, there’s no reason to pay a legal fee that encompasses the value of finding the solution.
You moved the line, so why should someone pay for what’s on the free side?
Image credit: CalamityJon