Many Internet users have come across so-called free consultations at various legal portals at least once. What are the benefits for legal advisers to engage in such an activity? Are such consultations expert? With this question, I turned to my lawyer friend, who told a lot of interesting things.
Hidden Commercial Interest
The first guess, which can appear in many heads, is quite natural. I was thinking about her too. Free online consultations are similar to the format of a demo version of a paid service. Or a computer program in the evaluation version (it does not provide full functionality and stops working after 30 days).
Indeed, a free lawyer can give general recommendations so that the client understands his level of expertise in the matter. At the same time, the consultant does not provide exhaustive and accurate answers (it does not give the client a chance to solve the problem on his own), and in the end, he necessarily leads the conversation to the following direction: “Your situation is complex, ambiguous, and it needs to be solved separately. To do this, you can contact our legal agency for a paid service .., We are guaranteed to help you, because we face this problem every day. "
This form of interaction with customers has the right to life. It is often found on the sites of law firms. This is not a scam or something bad. On the contrary. Through such consultations, company lawyers can better advertise themselves and lead doubting clients to enter into an agreement to provide paid legal services.
In addition, this form of communication improves search engine optimization site. If someone searches through the search engine “how to evict the mother-in-law from the apartment,” and this situation has already been discussed on the website of this law firm, the person is more likely to find this site.
Do not believe that it works? The owners of the two most popular portals on this subject disagree with you: Lawyer and 9111.ru. In the distant 2014, according to RBC, Pravoved’s annual income was 1.4 million rubles. The portal "9111.ru" refused to disclose data on its capitalization. But the site’s management boasted to correspondents that in the last month alone, lawyers working on this portal have earned over 1 million rubles. How much these “monsters” of legal advice are making now is scary to imagine. But is there any benefit to the person from the work of these sites?
If the client himself is knowledgeable in legal topics, such demo-consultations can give him a clear recipe or an action plan for solving the problem on his own without the help of lawyers. Then from the free consultation of a lawyer there is a benefit. But the majority of people, having received limited recommendations from a lawyer, will not be able to solve the problem on their own and will be forced to seek paid help from the same consultant (after all, he also assured that the matter is trifling). In this case, the benefits of a free consultation are more for the lawyer and his office, and not for the client.
Proof of legal practice
In addition to the commercial interest of the lawyer or his company, there is another important point in conducting free online consultations. Legal professions are different:
A person with a law degree cannot simply take a job as a judge, lawyer, or, for example, a notary.
In order to take one of these positions, it is necessary to submit a package of documents to a professional board (“council of elders” among lawyers, judges or any other legal specialties), pass an exam and confirm your level of professional suitability.One of the steps towards a new profession is the confirmation of his work experience and experience in consulting work.
In the age of the Internet, even an expert who is not employed by a law firm can accumulate proven experience in the profession. Posts in various forums are almost always dated. Why not take advantage of this? A lawyer may conduct periodic consulting activities on the Internet for several years. For example - once a day. This is much more convenient than carrying out exhausting work in the office on weekdays from 8.00 to 18.00.
Further, the printouts from all these forums are supported in the package of documents as proof that the lawyer has been actively involved in consulting activities during the last 3, 5 or 6 years. This experience may be counted when filing documents to the board, when an ordinary lawyer will want to occupy a higher status.
Such consultants can be found on general question-answer sites and on specialized portals for free advice from lawyers, where there is no bias towards any one firm. These portals benefit from the traffic (earnings from advertising that visitors view). Such sites are often reputationally beneficial, so that consultations are more or less professional. Often on such portals you can find a rating system that allows you to determine the value of the advice of certain lawyers.
But you should not completely rely on the fact that the experts on such portals will help you "from and to". Lawyers don't work hard for free. They do this only to fix their work experience. They can give competent advice, after which you still have to apply for paid legal support and representation of your interests in specialized firms. And they can give illiterate advice. Just because it was too lazy to delve into the problem, because you will not have to accompany the client in the future. And at the bar or the panel of judges still will not check everything that is written. After all, this is all a mere formality. For the board, the other thing is more important - who recommended you and whose relative you are, because the им clan ’doesn’t allow those in power to random people. There are a lot of amazing stories about this in the open spaces of Runet in the style of “how I tried to become a lawyer.”
Copywriter instead of a lawyer
The worst situation is when real certified lawyers on the Internet are simulated by copywriters. Of course, writers are different:
- former or current journalists (they are supposed to quickly be able to understand any difficult topic at the expert level);
- lawyers, bankers and realtors who work as copywriters (they are so competent in their field);
- students, schoolchildren and mothers in decrees from the copyright exchanges (the expertise and ability to verify the facts of this category of workers is off scale (no)).
For the most part, those who are willing to work at the rate of 20-70-100 rubles per thousand characters without spaces are responsible for filling the various websites with texts. Mostly non-professional people agree on such a rate and, rarely, professionals who currently need any part-time job.
It is beneficial for law firm sites and larger portals with free online consultations to hire copywriters who pretend to be lawyers than real lawyers. It's cheaper. But such a forgery is needed for the same advertising and enticing goals, as in the cases from the first paragraph of this article (search engine promotion, advertising office services). The above-mentioned portal "9111.ru" precisely sins with this for the sake of profit. Once the personnel officers of this company found my journalist’s resume on the website hh.ru. They came in contact with me and suggested, apparently, like many others, to write consulting legal materials on their website.For this, the sky in diamonds was promised a symbolic monetary reward for every 1000 views of my super-useful writing.
I know firsthand that smaller law firms are not lagging behind the market giants in their desire to hire a copywriter for the price of one hot dog for a half-year project (it was possible to come across such vacancies). How does it work?
For example, in the law firm Pupkin and Partners there are only two lawyers (Pupkin and Lupkin). These guys are constantly disappearing in court sessions from corner to lunch (there is no time for them in general). Their company has a website with a free consultation section and a cunning admin Misha, who looks after the whole thing. Suppose that questions from potential customers come to this site every day more and more. Admin Misha has to somehow get out, because the writings from clients on the portal will significantly save the advertising budget allocated to him. Which he, by the way, so already almost drank. And here is a good chance for PR. But in order for client questions to be published on the site, they definitely need competent answers from lawyers Pukin and Lupkin. And these guys are not (they are busy in court proceedings). And Misha is looking for someone who will quickly and cheaply answer all these questions. For example, an energetic schoolboy Petya, who is ready to work for 5 rubles per hour.
As a result, absolutely on any portal where there is a free lawyer, we can run into an eighth-grader Petya, who knows how to quickly google the topic of the problem you described, and, not really delving into it, rewrite the answer with a similar article, as he thinks.
The consultation in this case can be not only wrong, but even harmful. This is because unprincipled uneducated copywriters on the Internet have divorced so much in recent years that the entire runet is overwhelmed with their horrible articles starting with revolutions like: “The question of how to expel the mother-in-law from the apartment is legal without her consent, there is no definite answer. So is it possible to expel the mother-in-law? Let's try to find out what the law and the mother-in-law herself are talking about ... "
These guys are just without thinking about rewriting the texts of each other for a dozen years for the fifth time. The quality of information in such articles degrades from year to year in any industry (this is especially evident in the medical field - that they didn’t google about any pimple on the nose, oncology will definitely be on the list of possible causes of illness). Here and texts on legal topics are rewritten without a minimum analysis of the legislation and the study of specialized legal literature.
It even happens that a Russian copywriter pulls out a piece of text from a Russian-language article of a Belarusian or Ukrainian colleague who, when writing the material, relied on the legislation of his own country. And to evict the same mother-in-law from the apartment according to the laws of the Russian Federation and Belarus is two different things. The result - the price of such advice zero. Or even - minus, because bad advice in the field of jurisprudence can lead to serious losses on your part. Especially when it comes to evicting his beloved mother-in-law, but a possible criminal prosecution.
Free lawyers can pretend to be frank rogues. For example, criminals sitting in places not so remote. To everyone's surprise, they now have free access to the Internet, thanks to which they began to earn money from:
- bulletin boards selling fake prepaid products;
- on real estate portals, renting out fake prepaid apartments;
- at legal advice.
The latter scheme is gaining immense popularity these days. Zek creates a non-existent law firm website. He registers real-known names of well-known and not-so-lawyers as office managers (the main thing is that you can download information about them on the Internet).This is done on the basis of those users who may want to google reviews on the work of these lawyers before entering into an agreement or pay for something. The client on such sites immediately falls into the section of free consultations. Further, by hook or by crook, they impose the signing of a contract for the provision of services to represent his interests. The contract, of course, on a non-existent firm with the mention of the names of lawyers not involved in it. And then the client is asked to make a partial or full prepayment for services. After receiving the money all contacts with the client are terminated. The contract, of course, no one sends anyone.
Lawyer with a tricky agreement
There is another form of fraud. It employs real lawyers - the “most honest” sons of the law. According to the head of the International Confederation of Consumer Societies, Dmitriy Yanin, these legal criminal organizations perfectly cover their rears from a legal point of view in order to “dilute” trusting citizens with money without fear of misadventures on their buttocks.
The essence of the scam is that a person under any pretexts is lured out of the Internet and telephone communication for a free consultation of a lawyer to the company's office. Even in the case of a simple case of 10–20 thousand (for example, a dispute over the return of money for a poor-quality product), the client is “processed” in such a way that he is ready to sign an agreement on the representation of his interests on a paid basis. It will cost him only a couple of thousand.
The person signs the contract, pays the money to the cashier, and then it turns out that he signed the contract for the provision of consulting services only. And any further actions on the part of lawyers in drafting documents, or filing them with the necessary authorities will be assessed according to a separate predatory price list. And the person has already agreed to all these conditions (there is a signature). As a result, in order to shake off the store compensation for a pair of defective sneakers, the client will have to spend several times more money on lawyers than the cost of these sneakers. Here you have a free lawyer. Typically, these experts manage to weld about 30-50 thousand rubles per customer, without particularly overstraining. And everything is legal. Under contract. Want a service? Get it! Did not read the fine print? Himself to blame!
Finding the right path
Is free cheese always threatened to hit the mousetrap? Not always. But at best, free legal advice gives a general understanding of the issue, but does not carry much value. In the worst case, they can be detrimental to your well-being.
How to protect against this? Better call Saul.
Joke. Engage in the selection of a qualified lawyer for each specific task on a fee basis. How to do it safely and effectively? In the real world, this can be done according to the recommendations of friends. On the Internet - through aggregators and marketplace services.
Only here there is one essential "BUT!". You need to choose a site that works only with law firms and does not deal with individual consultants, freelancers and other people who could freely register in the system and start offering their services as an artist.