Many VFFR blogs discuss different scenarios where giving veterans advice on new claims cause conflicts of interest between a veteran and attorney because the attorney fees can be negatively affected by the advice. On the other hand, attorneys can possibly avoid the conflict of interest by just not giving advice about new claims. Is that right? It appears a good deterrent against providing advice on new claims that would cause a conflict of interest is to charge a consultation fee so they’ll be less veterans asking questions. Most veterans are not in a position to pay consultation fees. Possibly, many veterans are deterred and will not ask for advice on the new claims especially those veterans who are in financial hardship and barely paying their bills that need the help the most. A consultation fee may have been put in there for the purpose of giving attorneys some compensation for their advice on new claims which may result in a conflict of interest. However, Congress did not totally think about the negative consequences to veterans involving charging consultation fees.
David L. Huffman, Esquire