Some law firms charge potential clients for initial consultations; some don’t.
And, it really is a personal issue, as to which side of the question you come down on.
One mistake attorneys consistently make, however, is to view consultations as a separate revenue stream.
The idea behind charging for consultations should never solely be to make more money.
Law firms are likely charging for consultations for two primary reasons: (1) to ensure attorneys don’t get overwhelmed with processing leads; (2) to test a client’s bona fides – can they pay once, making it more likely that they’ll pay later. But, ultimately, the objective in both cases is the same: qualify potential clients as quickly as possible, so that the lawyer is (a) not wasting time, (b) only working with target clients.
And, that last part should be the root philosophy for any initial consultation program: The idea is to only talk to those leads who are your ideal clients.
And, if part of the description for an ideal client for your law firm includes someone who is willing to pay for an initial consultation, then charge ‘em. If not, don’t.