I am bound by strict rules of professional conduct. Once I hear your side of the story, I cannot represent the opposing party due to a conflict of interest, even if you do not retain me. In this sense, my consultation fee is my compensation for the loss of future potential legal work.
I use my consultation fee to figure out how serious you are about your case and whether you have the means to pay for my services. A consultation fee helps me weed out individuals just searching for free legal advice.
I spend a lot of time, effort, and money to gain my expertise and knowledge, and my consultation will provide you with valuable information. During my consultations, I tell potential clients that they do not need my services if I find that to be the case. I also consistently offer alternatives that are not profitable to me but are beneficial to potential clients. It is fair that you should compensate me for providing you with valuable information as well as helping you formulate a plan for moving forward.