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Lawyer Refuses To Give Friend Free Legal Advice Even Though They Designed His Website For Free

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Redditor CantGraspTheConcept works in IT tech and has no problem helping friends who seek their guidance on issues relating to the field.

They believed their philosophy of helping friends for free who needed their expertise applied to everyone else.

But after an interaction with a friend, who is a lawyer, revealed hard truths, the Redditor visited the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit and asked:

“AITA for expecting friends to do things in their field for free?”

The Original Poster (OP) asked:

“I work in IT/Graphical design and people ask me for tech help constantly. Like I’m everyone’s go to guy if their computer is broken or they need to upgrade or their internet isn’t working or you name it.”

“I always help because I tend to try to live by this standard that ‘if I have the ability to help someone and choose not to then I’m morally in the wrong.'”

“Well the other day I needed some legal advice. So I reached out to a buddy of mine (who I’ve helped with computer stuff btw) if he would be willing to give me essentially a consultation.”

“He directed me to his website where I am hit with the ‘1 hour consultation is $300’ so I was like ‘hey I can’t really afford these kind of lawyer fees was kind of hoping you could just help me as a friend.”

“Well he laughed and got a little rude with me saying the old ‘don’t ask people to do what they do for a living for free’ but I never really understood that mindset because I help people all the time for free and would feel bad for accepting payment from my friends when they need help.”

“I was kind of taken aback and responded that I never charge him for any of the help I give him within my profession but he said ‘That’s different because it’s just computer stuff’ which felt like I’m being looked down on.”

“We kind of got into it a little bit where I said yeah but you take your stuff to me because you think taking it to the store is a ripoff when my rate is actually a lot higher than a place like best buy.”

“We didn’t really make up and probably aren’t talking much anymore lol.”

“So yeah AITA?”

“Edit: I was told I would add this context to the post:”

“I’ll add some clarity for the type of work I’ve done for him for free:”

“I designed a logo, I helped create a web page and form submission/ticketing system, have helped repair broken computers, built a gaming computer for free labor, set up a SOHO network, and designed some flyers for his wife’s cleaning service.”

“Other than that it’s just been general troubleshooting advice like you would expect.”

Strangers online were asked to declare one of the following:

  • NTA – Not the A**hole
  • YTA – You’re the A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everybody Sucks Here

Many Redditors thought the OP was not the a**hole here.

“NTA- send him an invoice for the IT work you’ve done and call it a day. He doesn’t value your work because he didn’t have to pay for it.” – Similar_Cold9303

“Long story I’ll try to make short: early in my career, I helped a friend pretty similar to what OP did for his lawyer friend here.”

“We’d had discussions a few times along the lines of ‘don’t worry about paying, at some point I’m sure I’ll need your services and we can square up then.'”

“This went on for years, even after my career went in a very different direction and it was absolutely not actually worth my time. However, hey, it was a friend and I didn’t mind helping out.”

“Eventually, I needed their service and while we didn’t discuss it, was under the assumption this would square us up. The job finished, and his wife dropped off an invoice for $9,000(all labor.) I called him and asked what the deal was here and his response was similar to the lawyer above.”

“This royally pissed me off so I went through my records and built invoices for each time I assisted and correlated the billing rate to what I was using at those times in my professional life. Luckily, I’ve always had the habit of logging scheduled items and a recap of what I did during those visits.”

“This estimate ranged from $75/hr at the start of my career to $500/hr with where I was at that point. All in, I invoiced him for around $35,000 and made it clear that this was on the low end of my estimation and if he wanted me to really firm it up I could do so.”

“They argued that I just did a bunch of small favors here and there for years and you couldn’t think of that as the same thing as doing a large single job. At this point I told them to pound sand. If they wanted to go this route I’d pay their invoice when they paid mine.”

“This led to threats of a lawsuit and general harassment by him, his wife and their family. In the end, from what I’ve been told, the lawyers he contacted advised that since he never provided an estimate or had any type of payment agreement with me, that pursuing this would likely lead to him opening himself up to being liable for my invoices as well.”

“At this point I haven’t spoken with him in 3 years now and think about it every once in a while. We had been friends for around 25 years at that point and it all went out the window because of this.” – Cerron20

“All of this!! I’m still super salty cause I made my bro and his bride a gluten-free stacked wedding cake. I’m a trained pastry chef and cake is what I do for a living. I didn’t even charge the money for costs and I was struggling at the time.”

“2 years later, SIL is starting a photography business. I ask if she would shoot my wedding. She says yeah… for $300.”

“I respond that I charged them nothing for their specialty wedding cake. She shoots back ‘photography is hard work!” Like, yeah…. photography was actually my major in college, so I get it. But you obviously have no appreciation for the work that went in your ‘favor.’ FOH with that.”

“Soured the relationship.”

“NTA, ALL the way.” – Strong_Lurking_Game

‘don’t ask people to do what they do for a living for free’

“He’s a hypocrite, seeing as how you’ve helped him multiple times in the past with his tech issues.”

‘That’s different because it’s just computer stuff’

“He does not value your expertise, time and effort.”

“You helping out others shows that you’re a good person; continue being who you are, but understand that there is a line to be drawn when people wish to take advantage of your kindness, as in this case.”

“If I were you, I would not make an effort to reach out to mend this friendship, because he’s shown you who he is and not worth the time and effort.”

“On the flip side, I would definitely pay a friend for his/her expertise in a given area, however, there is an unwritten expectation that ‘if you scratch my back, I will scratch yours’.” – Grouchy-Sky-549

“NTA. Your friend is. When he needed IT help, he easily could have said, at that point, ‘I trust you, so I’m specifically asking you to do it. What’s your hourly rate? I don’t believe in anyone gifting their professional expertise.'”

“I wouldn’t agree with that statement (in fact, I’m much closer to your camp). But it would make sense. It would be fair. What’s completely unjust is his taking advantage of your professional capabilities for free, then demanding you pay for his. I would dump this AH immediately and make sure he knows why.” – Dgently123

“NTA here. To clarify you should NOT expect your friends to provide services for free. If they do great but that should not be an expectation. That goes for you too, if you want to help friends great, if you want to charge friends great.”

“In this instance I think it’s reasonable to be surprised that your friend would demand payment when he’s utilized your services before but still he doesn’t owe you anything for what you freely give.”

“That said your friends a major AH for laughing at you and diminishing your profession, I recommend charging him for any services in the future.” – Gantref

“NTA. Play by their rules going forward. No pay, no computer support. If they really do want to pay, set up a cost per hour similar to what the Geek Squad etc. might charge or even what you normally make for your Graphic Design job per hour as clearly you could be working making more money instead of doing just ‘computer stuff.'”

“Turn about is fair play.” – KarmaWillGetYa

Overall, Redditors thought the OP’s lawyer friend was being condescending, and they recommended that the next time he asks for the OP’s services, the OP should charge him for their services.

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a Los Angeles based actor whose work has been spotted anywhere from Broadway stages to Saturday Night Live.
He received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese.
In addition to being a neophyte photographer, he is a huge Disney aficionado and is determined to conquer all Disney parks in the world to publish a photographic chronicle one day. Mickey goals.
Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1 Flickr: nyckmo