Handling Calls From People Who Want Free Legal Advice

Handling Calls From People Who Want Free Legal Advice

I was recently asked how my law firm handles calls from individuals seeking free legal advice. The lawyer I was speaking with had indicated that he seemed to be getting too many “tire kickers” who have no desire or intention of hiring an attorney, and he was frustrated by these calls and callers.

First, in my mind, there are two major categories of what lawyers typically think of as “unwanted” callers: (1) clients calling to speak to you about a case that involves a practice area that your firm doesn’t handle and (2) clients who call seeking free advice in an area of law that you do practice. So my answer to the original question was a little unusual. My business philosophy and approach to clients is that they are a valuable resource, even if they aren’t the calls that you want.

Let me give you a hypothetical situation. Imagine for a moment that you inherited 700 acres of land that was essentially worthless and could never be resold. However, the land was covered hip-deep in horse shit. This horse waste was literally hip-deep across the entire piece of land. What would you do? The answer is simple: you would start an extremely profitable manure business, and you would sell that shit and make a small fortune.

Now, I don’t know anything about the manure business, but I can tell you that where you have a resource, it is the proficient and creative lawyer that leverages that resource toward profitability.

Let’s apply this logic to the “unwanted” callers and see where we end up. If you had ten (10) calls a week from each category of unwanted callers, you would have an available resource. How could you leverage that resource to benefit your practice?

Leveraging Unwanted Callers Needing a Referral

Let’s assume that your firm receives ten (10) calls a week from individuals seeking representation in areas of law that you do not practice. Conventional wisdom suggests that it would be a waste of your time (time being a resource as well) to speak to these individuals. However, great organizations know that no client-related resource should be wasted. Why not invest a few minutes into each caller or utilize a client relations manager ensure that they dedicate the time that is needed to harvest this resource appropriately.

Invest a small but reasonable amount of time to speaking to the caller and give them an opportunity to be heard. Let the caller tell their story. Inform the client that you are interested in helping them find the best lawyer for them despite the fact that you do not practice in this particular area of law. Gather the client’s contact information and request permission to contact an experienced lawyer on their behalf so that you can ensure that their needs are met. And finally, request permission for that attorney to then contact the client directly, thereby avoid awkward hand-offs or allowing a potential client for a referral source to slip through the proverbial cracks.

After you have hung up and identified the best lawyer for the referral, send the following email to the client:

Dear {Client’s name}:

It was a pleasure speaking with you about [insert legal issue] today. I am sorry that you are having to deal with {reference facts described by caller}, and I trust that the issues will resolve in your favor in a timely manner.

Regardless, I have taken the liberty of providing contact information for the referrals we discussed earlier today. I would recommend calling:

{lawyer’s name} at {law firm name}. He is located in {city, state} but is an experienced and competent lawyer. I have consulted with {lawyer’s name} on more than one occasion and he comes highly recommended. {lawyer’s name} can be reached on his office line at (555) 555-5555.

In the event that {lawyer’s name} is not able to assist you, I would recommend calling {other lawyer’s name} at {other law firm name}. I know {other lawyer name} is also proficient in {practice area}

If both of these law firms are unable to assist you in the above-mentioned matter, please do not hesitate to call me back at (444) 444-4444 so that I may assist you in locating someone who may be able to help.


This email template can be saved in your Gmail as a template or Outlook to save time when you need to send it again in the future.

Making this referral to this other lawyer benefits you in two significant ways: (1) it gives you the ability to expand your referral network in hopes that the other lawyer will refer a case back to you in the future and (2) it permits you to nurture and foster a relationship with a future potential client.

On paper, expanding your referral network of lawyers equates to you hopefully getting more inbound referrals from those others lawyers. Making a referral to another lawyer gives you a door to contact that lawyer for the next six or 12 months to follow up and grab lunch. Moreover, making referrals to other lawyers should translate to them sending you cases that are outside of their legal wheelhouse but within yours.

Additionally, spending time with callers and getting to know them allows you to place that caller into a “client nurturing” funnel. A client nurturing funnel is a process whereby you remain in contact with a potential client and, for the short term, ensure that they have found a lawyer for their current legal needs. And in the long term, you can communicate with a client in the nurturing funnel and check up on how their other case is going or make sure they are doing well. Having built a relationship with this individual, you have something to email or call them about. This ensures that if and when they need your actual legal services, they will call you first.

So, the goal ultimately is to ensure that this client has communicated in writing with you, remembers that you listened and cared even though you couldn’t help, and that you cared enough to take time to ensure their legal needs were met. In my mind, these few simple steps, which take no more than maybe 8-10 minutes, will ensure that the individual will call you one day for something legitimate. Or, even better, the caller may refer his friends and family to you.

Leveraging Unwanted Callers Wanting Free Advice

You have received ten (10) calls a week from individuals wanting free legal advice, and you happen to practice in that very area of law. First, let’s acknowledge again that great organizations understand that any resource is valuable, especially someone calling you about the very thing you could help them with.

It’s worth noting that some clients call lawyers and expect free advice from start to finish. However, I think that these individuals are in the gross minority. Most calls from people looking for information are also looking for a way to get help from you and don’t know how to do it. At my firm, Wallace Pierce Law, you would be surprised by the number of people calling for free advice on how to handle their personal injury claim because they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. Some people just don’t know that personal injury lawyers, at least the ones at my office, work on a contingency basis, and a simple conversation results in a new client and case.

However, where you do get a call from someone looking for free information, why not spend the time doing two things: (1) briefly answering their questions and (2) explaining how you can help.

Even if you spend the time answering their questions and they still have no desire to hire you, why not ask the caller for their contact information and send them an article or e-book about their particular issue?

Gaining an understanding of the client’s concerns and legal needs allows you to shape your future communications with that client to ensure that you maximize your opportunity to convert that caller into a client. Again let’s assume that you receive a call from someone looking for free advice, here is a sample template of the first email that you would send to them to increase the likelihood of being retained after taking the call.

Dear {Client’s name}:

It was my pleasure speaking with you about today about your car accident. I was sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time dealing with the insurance adjuster. However, I trust that the issues will resolve in your favor in a timely manner.

Regardless, I have taken the liberty of locating an article from my website that deals with exactly what you are going through: {Link}.

As I mentioned, we deal with Allstate on a regular basis, and I can appreciate the difficult road you will have to travel to win this fight.

Should you need any more advice or someone in your corner to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone at (444) 444-4444.


This email template can be saved in your Gmail as a template to save time when you need to send it again in the future.

Practically speaking, this email tells the caller that you care and that you are willing to speak to them again. Additionally, it explains that you have experience dealing with these issues and that you are capable of assisting them, should they desire.

Moreover, I am a fan of continued efforts and communications with these types of clients. Spend the time creating the various email templates you would need to communicate with these callers on an ongoing basis. Note that I am not suggesting that you barrage them with email! Try the following email schedule:

Email #1: Day of initial client call.
See template above

Email #2: Seven days after initial call.

{Client’s name}:

I just wanted to send you a quick email to make sure that you are still doing well and to inquire as to any progress you have been able to make with the insurance adjuster in your case.

I hope that you found the article I emailed to you helpful, and as always, should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Email #3: Four weeks after the initial call.

Dear {Client’s name}:

I thought I would shoot you a quick email to follow up. Feel free give me a call if you would like to give me an update on your progress with {issue.}


Email #4: Every 8 weeks, thereafter.

Dear {Client’s name}:

I hope things have been progressing well with your case. I thought it would be a good time to follow up and make sure you {general concerns}. Please be wary {describe common issues}. Regardless, feel free to give me a shout should you need anything.



It’s my opinion that both categories of “unwanted” callers are an extremely valuable currency to your law firm, and that you would be remiss for not investing the time and energy in building the processes needed to ensure that these individuals provide value to your law firm in the future.


Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h

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