Why “How long does the consultation last?” is the wrong question

“How long is the consultation?” is a question I often hear being asked of whoever answers the phone in my office in Enfield. But it is a meaningless, irrelevant question.

Let me explain why by reference to two stories.

New York apartment block

The first one is about a sparkling, new New York apartment being completed about 25 years ago. Shortly before the opening and launch of the development a serious problem became apparent. Every floor of the twenty five storey block was affected by some type of reaction between the paint used and the plaster in the walls and ceilings.

It turned out that an unknown and unforeseen chemical reaction was the source of the problem. But nobody had a solution, save for one man. This quiet, unassuming chemist-let’s call him Bob-knew what the problem was because he had done a PhD some 25 years prior about this very reaction in new buildings.

When Bob’s help was requested he said he would be happy to help and had only one condition: he would give them the solution on one page of A4 paper and the price was a non-negotiable $1M.

The developers of the building gratefully accepted Bob’s terms and a handover took less than 5 minutes the next day. Remedial works followed, based on Bob’s one page document and advices, and the development was launched successfully.

A visit to the doctor

A friend of mine was recently complaining of a throbbing pain and tension towards the back of her head. This lasted for nearly two weeks and she was increasingly perplexed and worried as to the source of the problem. Some online research into the problem only increased her concerns.

She eventually obtained a doctor’s appointment and had her blood pressure checked. The doctor also asked a range of questions and carried out some other minor checks and pronounced that the cause of her difficulty was simply a “tension headache”. He prescribed some over the counter tablets she could pick up in the pharmacy.

The consultation only lasted 7 minutes and cost €100 but she was relieved and delighted that her problem was solved and she had the peace of mind from knowing that her worries were unnecessary and misplaced. The fact that the consultation only lasted 7 minutes was of little of no significance, provided she had confidence in the doctor’s opinion.

She was doubtful at first but the following weeks made it clear that the doctor was right and her problem has completely cleared up.


Neither of these problems required a long time to solve because the problem solvers in both cases needed less than 10 minutes to provide the solution. Sure, each of them could have dragged it out, took more time, beat around the bush, protracted the meeting for a longer period of time.

But nobody would have benefitted and it would have been deceitful and unnecessary.

Regarding legal problems: if you are thinking about quitting your job or buying a property or commencing potentially expensive legal proceedings getting sound legal advice, regardless of how much it costs for a consultation or how long it lasts, will be money well spent and should be measured by the value you receive, not the length of time it takes for the consultation.

Yes, I know you are anxious that all of the facts are known to the solicitor and are taken into account; and they will be because a professional solicitor will take as long as necessary to gather the relevant information to give you the best advice possible.

In answer to your question, “how long does the consultation last?”, the answer is as long as necessary to advise you properly.

Learn more about our employment law consultation service here and all other areas of law here.
P.S. We allocate a maximum of 1 hour for our consultations.