Attorneys vary in the amount of time they provide for a free consultation, with some offering a lengthy initial consultation at no charge and others providing little or no free time. This is true regardless of whether the consultation is online or in person.
States have variable rules regarding attorney fees, but most generally follow the American Bar Association's model rules for professional responsibility. The ABA rules do not address online chatting in specific. However, the ABA professional responsibility rule 1.5 does require that any lawyer fees are reasonable under the circumstances, and that the lawyer must communicate the fees to the client, preferably in writing. Therefore, a lawyer may not charge for an online chat without first informing the client that he plans to do so.