Why I Can’t Answer Your Questions or Give You Legal Advice for Free

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Every day of the week, I receive emails, telephone calls, or letters from people with problems, issues, or questions.

Most people understand that there will be a consultation fee for my advice/opinion.

However, some people think I should be answering these questions and offering my opinion for free.

However, I can’t.

I simply cannot answer these questions or give legal advice for free.

You might think, “miserable/greedy/mean/grasping/stingy lawyer-typical”.

And I understand that reaction.

But let me explain why I have to adopt this policy.

Time and Complexity

Most situations might appear simple but, in fact, are complex, and require time and research.

Let’s take, for example, an employment scenario. In order to advise properly I will need to

  1. Find out all the facts and circumstances of the issue
  2. Review the contract of employment
  3. Review any relevant correspondence between employer and employee
  4. Review any investigation/disciplinary/medial reports relevant to the situation.

Doing this takes time, and possibly research.

Answering all the questions I receive on a daily basis, and providing accurate, professional advice is time consuming, for the reasons outlined above. If I was to do this for free I simply would not have sufficient time in the day to advise and help my clients.

Quite frankly, I would not be able to earn a living, and pay my office expenses, and professional expenses, and pay my mortgage and look after my family.

In summary, to provide you with a good service, and do you and your issue justice, I need to devote time and expertise to it.

And for this, I am sure you agree, I am entitled to be paid, just like you in your job.

Professional Negligence

If I give you bad advice, and you suffer losses as a result of acting on that advice, I am leaving myself open to being sued for professional negligence.

Yes, even if I was not paid.

Why? Because I am a professional and it could be argued that anyone asking me for advice is entitled to rely on that advice.

Yes, even if you have not paid.

Let’s call a spade a spade: if I am leaving myself open to being sued for professional negligence I think it is prudent to charge a consultation fee and give the necessary time to produce the very best advice I can give.

And let’s face it: giving advice is what I do for a living-what I get paid for.

Alternative Sources of Information

My websites provide a large quantity of useful information. They provide the backbone to the growth of my solicitor’s practice.

And all the information is completely free.

That’s the way it will remain; I will never charge for the information freely available on my websites:

But to advise you on your particular situation, taking into account your specific circumstances, and to weigh up all the relevant facts and then advise, there is a small consultation fee.

I trust you now understand why.

You can learn more about this service here.

If you don’t want to pay your local Citizen’s Advice may be able to help.

If you are happy to pay, click here.

3 Questions Employers Should Ask Before Engaging the Services of HR/Employment Law Service Providers

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I’m contacted regularly by a couple of “HR” guys I’ve come to know.

They invariably have a question to ask.

And a lot of the time, more than one.

They say that they just want to “pick your brains”. This is said to flatter me. And persuade me to overlook the fact that what they are really looking for is free advice.

The scary thing is that both of these guys have a lot of clients in the SME/small business sector. And some of their questions betray an appalling lack of knowledge in areas that they are supposed to be “expert” in.

They can probably acquire new clients in the SME sector because they are good salespersons. But when the crap hits the fan in their clients’ business in relation to employment law, they are on the phone to guys like me.

Because while they have a decent broad general knowledge of employment law, they don’t have the necessary expertise when the going gets really serious.

And when the employer is facing a potentially very expensive claim.

Or claims.

They operate like many others in this space-on a small monthly fee basis. That way, the employer/client doesn’t really feel the cost. But it adds up over a year. And really adds up over a number of years.

Recurring Income Model

Any recurring income model like this is a great way to derive an income for two main reasons:

  1. The apparently small cost. When you divide up a yearly fee into easily digested small chunks like a monthly payment (or even a daily payment) it looks very affordable and
  2. Inertia. Once the HR/employment law provider has the employer signed up the employer comes to accept the monthly deduction, which is small, and is unlikely to cancel it.

So it’s a great business model.

Unfortunately for the employer, lads like me end up picking up the pieces either in advising when a difficulty arises or in providing representation when a claim ends up at the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Labour Court, or the Civil Courts.

SMEs, small business owners, and employers generally should ask some searching questions at the outset-questions about their qualifications in relation to employment law, if any; about what happens if the employer is given incorrect and costly advice; about insurance for professional negligence and whether the HR expert has any.

The relatively small monthly payment should not mask the potential cost for the employer is (s)he is on the wrong end of a successful employment related claim.

Awards in unfair dismissal or equality related cases can be very high. And when you throw in the cost of getting professional legal advice and representation for these cases it is quickly obvious that not asking some basic questions when obtaining the services of a HR/employment law service, like those outlined above, can be a big mistake.