Do people ever ask you for free advice? Of course they do. So, what do you do about it?
Do you tell them to make an appointment? Give them the speech about “all a lawyer has to sell is his time and advice”? Or do you answer their question and hope you’re not wasting your time?
I have another suggestion. In fact, if you agree with my suggestion, you will no longer dread calls or emails asking legal questions or seeking free advice, you will encourage them.
The next time someone asks for your advice, don’t answer them over the phone or in an email. Write your answer and turn it into a blog post or newsletter article.
Quote the question but omit anything that might identify the questioner. Answer the question by explaining the law and procedure. Describe the options and the criteria for making the best choice. Provide advice in “if/then” terms.
Send a copy or a link to the inquirer and tell them you hope it helps. Tell them to contact you if they would like to talk to you about their specific case or matter or they wish to proceed further. Tell them you would be happy to quote a fee for this work or consultation.
Your post provides the questioner with guidance about what to do. It shows them that if they choose to take the matter further, you have the requisite experience and knowledge to help them. They’re happy because they got some information and advice from an expert. They understand that if they want more from you, they will have to pay for it.
You get a prospective client who is now one step closer to becoming an actual client. If they contact you again, they will almost certainly hire you and pay you.
You also get content for your website or blog that demonstrates your expertise, your thoroughness, and your willingness to help people. That content helps website visitors understand their legal issue and sells them on you and your ability to help them. If you get inquiries about similar issues, you can point people to your “library” of previous answers. That library of content will also attract visitors through search engines and social sharing.
Don’t merely answer questions, leverage those questions to create traffic, build your reputation, build your list, and pre-sell clients on hiring you.
For more on how to create online content, see this.