No Good Deed

Bad Review for Lawyer Not Giving Free Advice

The subject of the review (call her “Jane”) doesn’t advertise free consultations. Suzanne called her wanting free legal advice. Jane didn’t give the free advice. Suzanne did not like that. Suzanne punished Jane.

Jane didn’t give Suzanne an answer (or at least didn’t give Suzanne the answer she wanted to hear); Topek and Topek spent 45 minutes on the phone with Suzanne, who never intended to hire them, and gave her the answer she wanted to hear. I wouldn’t criticize them for that, and even if I would, I sure don’t have room to — I have spent a whole lot of time on the phone trying to help people (because to me it feels good to help people) who never intended to hire me.

But I haven’t yet had someone post a negative review online because I didn’t provide satisfactory free advice. And Suzanne got the idea somewhere that lawyers must either “give an answer without payment” or “suck and be money hungry.” And one plausible explanation for how Suzanne-class people got that idea is that lawyer-type people spent too much time on the phone trying to help them for free.

Suzanne punished Jane for not giving Suzanne what Suzanne had been led (by people other than Jane) to expect. Did Suzanne reward Topek with a positive review at the same time? Of course not. It seems to me that if we measure Suzanne’s satisfaction with this transaction by the average number of stars she handed out to the other participants, she was very unhappy with it.

The more people pay their lawyers, the happier they are with the service. If Suzanne hadn’t received (or at least hadn’t expected) free advice from lawyers in the business of advising people for money, she might have come away happier. 

And really, isn’t that all any of us want? 

1 Comment

  1. Indeed no good deed goes unpunished. If you are outspoken about the criminal justice system, some people seem to think you are obliged to provide them free legal services. I try to respond to all inquiries, but some people are just demanding and rude. The older I get, the less patience I have for this crap.

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