As a lawyer with a YouTube channel, I receive a fair number of calls and emails from people interested in scheduling a consultation with me. And since August 2022, if you were interested in protecting your brand, that call was free.
In this post, I'm going to explain why I started offering free strategy calls, and what has changed in my practice such that I can no longer offer these calls without compensation.
Why offer Free Strategy Calls to Begin With?
I've always believed strongly in the mantra that I wanted to provide as much free information to people as possible. That was the whole reason that I started my Youtube channel in the first place.
My YouTube Channel has and always will be the place for free information and guidance, and a paid strategy call was available for those people that needed a little more information, had unique questions that I couldn't answer in a video, or people that were ready to make the leap and hire my firm for assistance.
Up until last August, the only way to schedule a call with me was to pay for it. And it wasn't cheap – $299 for a 30 minute consultation. But my goal with those calls was to make them worth 10x as much value as the investment people made to talk to me.
My firm worked with online business owners on all sorts of issues. We served as outsourced general counsel, negotiated contracts, formed LLC’s, and, of course, helped entrepreneurs to protect their brands with federal trademarks.
However, last August, I made the decision to simplify my firm and focus solely on helping entrepreneurs to protect their brands with trademarks. We still do handle some contract work and form LLC’s, but trademarks are our bread and butter.
To kickstart this change in the firm, we made the strategic decision to offer free strategy calls for potential trademark clients. While we still offered paid strategy calls for other matters, the majority of our calls have been with people looking to protect their brands.
Unfortunately, for the reasons that follow, I’m no longer able to offer free strategy calls.
So… Why Start Charging Again?
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend during the past few months that has precipitated this change.
Too many calls with unqualified prospects
I actually don’t mind getting on the phone with people who aren’t ready to work with me. These are some of my favorite calls.
I love these calls because they are often from people who are just getting started with entrepreneurship and are looking for some helpful tips on how to make sure they can protect their brand.
What I don’t like is people that schedule a free call with me and want to talk about tax strategies, contracts, or something else completely unrelated to trademarks.
My website clearly states that the free call is for trademark information only, but many people disregard this and attempt to schedule a free call anyway.
No shows have exploded
When I charged for consultations, I rarely had a no-show. And when it did happen, the potential client would email me ahead of time to let me know.
Since I’ve started offering free strategy calls, my show-up rate is hovering somewhere north of 50%, which is, frankly, unacceptable.
As a lawyer, my time is my most valuable resource. When I block off an hour on my calendar for a strategy call and the client doesn’t show up, not only does it waste my time where I could be doing work for a paying client, recording a podcast, or recording a video, but it shows a lack of respect on the part of the person that scheduled that call.
I have done everything possible to eliminate no-shows, such as sending out reminder emails and texts. But at the end of the day, I can’t force someone to hop on Zoom for a call with me. If they forgot about the call or just decided they were no longer able to fit the call in their day, there is nothing I can do about it.
And FYI, the reason I have time to write this post today is because someone just no-showed for a consultation call…
Conflict of Interests
When you get on a call with me and share your plans for your brand, as a lawyer I am conflicted out of working with someone else that may have a similar trademark selling related goods or services as you.
For example, let’s say you wanted to register the name of your podcast, Bootstrapped Entrepreneur, but then you decide not to move forward.
If someone else schedules a call with me and wants to register their podcast name, Bootstrapping Your Business, now I have a conflict. I can’t represent both clients in this instance because the names are likely to be confused with one another.
(For the record, I have no idea if those names are available, they were the first things that came to my head).
And it doesn’t matter if the first person hired me or not. The fact that I had taken the call means that I can’t help the second person because I know too much about what person#1 was planning with their business and their brand.
In essence, every time I take a call with a potential client, I’m prohibiting myself from earning money from some other client.
And that’s no fun.
No Legal Advice
I hate doing it, but every time I get on a free strategy call, I have to inform the caller that I can’t give them legal advice.
That means I can’t go to the trademark office website and do a quick knockout search for you during the call. I can’t let you know if your name is too generic or descriptive. I can’t let you know if I see any legal red flags that would keep you from registering your name.
Doing any of these things constitutes legal advice.
Non-lawyers don’t always understand this. What seems like a seemingly innocent question can have significant legal consequences.
If I give you legal advice during a free strategy call, and you rely on that advice and something goes wrong, then you could theoretically sue me for malpractice.
And that means I’m taking a big risk. Risk equals liability on my part.
If you are wondering why lawyers charge so much money, that’s why. Whenever we give out legal advice, whether it be during a free or paid call, or to a brand new client, or to some random person we meet at happy hour, we are taking a risk that something bad happens as a result of our advice.
And while it is rare, malpractice claims and bar grievances do happen. If I’m going to take the risk that someone could sue me or put my law license at risk, I need to be compensated for that.
Hopefully you understand…
Are You Ready to Talk?
During your initial call with me, we will review the trademark process, I’ll share with you the timeline of when you can expect things to happen on your trademark application, and I’ll answer all of your questions… legal or otherwise. These are things (especially answering the legal questions) that I just can't do on a free call.
In addition, I’ll also let you know if I see any major red flags with your trademark. That means that I can let you know:
- Whether I think your proposed mark actually functions as a trademark or not; and,
- I can run a quick search to let you know if there are any obvious conflicting trademarks.
All in all, the value you get from this call could be worth literally thousands of dollars to your business and brand by…
- Keeping you from investing additional time and money into a brand that you will never be able to own
- Helping you to decide between several brand names to move forward with (one might be problematic while the other is a safer choice)
- Keeping you from making the wrong choice when it comes deciding whether to register a word mark or a design mark
So don't look at this change as a cost to your business, rather it is important for you to understand just how much money a paid strategy call will save you, regardless of whether you decide to move forward with your trademark.
Most lawyers that offer free strategy calls are either doing so because 1) they don't value their time; or, 2) they are treating them as a “discovery call” to pre-qualify clients. Don't for a second believe that you will be getting free legal advice during these calls, there is no such thing.
A Paid Strategy Call Will Save You $$$
Not only is a paid strategy call much more valuable than a free call, it is also the best way to start down the path of protecting your business name.
But I’m taking this new paid strategy call with baby steps. Now through the end of March, you can schedule a strategy call for $50 off.
What are you waiting for?