What Truhlar and Truhlar does provide is a free telephone call with an experienced family law attorney, often Doris Truhlar, who has been an attorney since 1981. Doris may provide information regarding resources, referrals to other attorneys, and similar assistance. Or she may schedule the caller for an initial consultation, for which the client will be charged at Doris’ regular hourly rate ($350 per hour) or the rate of an associate attorney ($150 per hour at the present time).
Let’s back up a minute here. First of all, if you’ve never retained (hired) an attorney previously, you may be wondering what areas of law comprise “family law.” Simply put, family law includes divorce, legal separation, annulment, adoption (including stepparent adoption), grandparent visitation and grandparent rights, post-divorce proceedings (often to enforce previous orders of the Court), foster parents’ rights, paternity, child support and related cases. Technically speaking, family law does not include proceedings in dependency and neglect (abuse and neglect of children), which are juvenile matters. Often, however, the same lawyers who handle family law matters also handle juvenile cases, which can include truancy cases and juvenile delinquency, in addition to dependency and neglect matters.
We have had potential clients act surprised that we don’t provide free initial consultations in family law. There are good reasons for this: One is that lawyers are strictly and expressly prohibited from offering a contingency fee on family law matters. In general, free consultations are offered by lawyers who accept contingency fee cases, such as automobile accidents and medical malpractice.
There is a second reason, as well. That is that if a potential client cannot afford to pay for an initial consultation, she or he is unlikely to be able to pay a retainer (anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of case). It is better to provide a referral at the outset, permitting the client to access free or low-cost resources.
So the initial informational call with one of our family law attorneys is the extent of the “free” resources we offer in the area of family law. Hopefully, that call will get the potential client pointed in the right direction. We also like potential clients to understand that, while the telephone call is confidential, it does not create an attorney/client relationship.