Recently I was asked by a personal injury attorney how he can weed out “tire kickers” from his law firm. That is to say, how to weed out a potential client from someone who just wants free advice. Most attorneys will tell you that this happens, all the time. However, it is strange that they are doing that to a personal injury attorney. In a personal injury case, everything is free to a client. You pretty much want everyone that is injured on any level. You can’t say, I only want clients that are seriously injured. Please contact me if you have back injuries, head trauma, whiplash, or if you are left with injuries that have changed your quality of life. Of course not. You are going to represent any victim, no matter what the injury is. Since there is no charge for your consultation, these potential clients are probably not tire-kickers. There are exceptions. If a potential client has injuries that are so minor that it would be impossible to prove they were hurt, and if that slight injury should in no way affect their lives they probably are“tire-kickers” and they are shopping for an attorney that will take his case.

So, when it comes to a personal injury lawyer, I cannot answer this question for you. “How do you get rid of the people who only want free advice in personal injury?” When it comes to a criminal defense lawyer, a divorce lawyer, family law, or bankruptcy attorneys that tell you, I only want free advice, they want advice that will get them to the desired outcome. What they are asking you is if you can get them to their goal.

What Do They Want To Know?

So, maybe you are a divorce lawyer or a family law attorney. The potential client asks: “How do I make sure that I am getting the right amount of child support?” They may ask “What do I do if my ex won’t pay his or her child support?  I don’t have the money to pay a lawyer, so what can I do?” The first thing you are going to do is show them the value of your fee versus how much they stand to lose and how much it will actually cost them if they do not have an attorney and if they try to do this alone. I am sure you have a lot of stories you can fall back on but here is an example.

Time To Do The Math

Tell the potential client something along these lines, “I understand what you are saying. My fees for doing something like this run about $4,000. But, considering that you have a 4-year-old son and you are going to be getting child support for the next 14-years. You are trying to fight this on your own. A little free advice is not going to be much help to you. Let’s say on your own, you missed out on $500 per month. That is $500 per month for 14-years! That is over $80,000 that you were entitled to. That is money to raise your child and give him the things he needs to prepare for adulthood. You missed out because you tried to do it by yourself, with some free advice.

This is the approach you need to take. Nobody really expects an attorney to work for free. Just because someone says they do not have any money doesn’t always mean that they don’t have any money. Sometimes it means they do not want to spend any money. People rarely call on an attorney for a good thing. When something goes bad, they run for the phone. People assume that lawyer’s fees are more than they can afford without even asking. You have to remember, people without money in their bank accounts have access to money. They have credit cards, they can get loans (even payday loans) they have ways to get money. People find money for vacations, cars, clothes, and going to the movies. If they apply their tactics they can afford legal fees in order to secure a better future.

Recently I Did A Podcast And I Was On The Phone With A Family Law Attorney. He Had To Take Another Call And He Put The Phone Hearing It In Action

down that we had been speaking on. I was able to hear what he was saying and it fits right in with this post. He said, “Well, we are out of money in your retainer and this case is going to continue going on and you need to go out to your mailbox and start filling out those pre-approved credit card offers because you need to. This case is not over and you need to find the money so that they can achieve whatever outcome they want.”

I talked to him a few days later and that person had come in with a credit card. They filled out the pre-approved credit card. Don’t listen when they say they have no money. Remind them of what it would cost not to hire an attorney.

Find It Now

No matter what kind of law you practice, you have to prove to your client that now is when they find the money so they can live better in the future. These are some great lines to remember:

  • I don’t have money for that
    • Well, isn’t that why you are here in the first place? If you want money in the future, you have to find money now.
  • If you want the right amount of child support in the future
    • Find the money for an attorney now
  • If you want to buy a house in the future
    • Consolidate your credit cards ad get rid of all the interest and fees now so you can afford a bankruptcy attorney now

My Favorite “Free Advice”

My favorite free advice was given to a client cam from a DUI attorney. It goes something like this.

The client said, “I don’t have the money for this. The attorney answered, “But, what’s going to happen when you lose your license and then you can’t drive to work so you lose your job? How are you going to have money in the future? You won’t have a job and then, on top of that, you actually have to check that “I’m a convicted felon” box on every job application in the future. So, if you want to have money now, you better find money now. You better find the money now. So, this is the scenario I usually push when someone is trying to get free advice on their legal case from me.

There is no way you can give free advice in 5 minutes and without knowing the details of a case. This includes the details that the speaker is leaving out. But, you can use this as an opportunity to nudge this person to make an appointment. Then both of you will walk away happy.