What Is Legal Advice?
When you have a legal matter to sort out, your first instinct may be to hop online to do research. You may even reach out to friends and family familiar with your situation to see what they have to say. Either way, recognize that the results you uncover either online or through other people are legal information, not legal advice.
The major difference between “legal information” and “legal advice” is that only a lawyer can give legal advice. Additionally, if you need to seek legal advice, turn to a licensed and experienced legal professional, not an unlicensed lawyer or a non-lawyer. Laypersons who willingly offer so-called legal advice engage in illegal behavior, and they open themselves up to court penalties.
Diving Deeper Into Legal Advice
Specifically, legal advice is oral or written counsel that affects the legal responsibilities or rights of the person seeking advice. Any legal advice you receive must be tailored to your unique legal situation, not stated as general fact or speculation.
How can you easily differentiate advice from information? Legal information pertains to how to handle a legal situation, whereas legal advice tells the person precisely what she or he should do.
Another aspect of the equation is the person giving this advice. Lawyers must have an attorney-client relationship with the person receiving advice. Additionally, providing legal advice comes with legal obligations, which means the lawyer has particular legal responsibilities and rights to follow through on.
What Are Examples of Legal Advice?
Specific examples of include:
- Filing legal documents for a client
- Filling out, choosing or creating legal contracts or forms that impact a client’s legal rights
- Creating a theory for a legal outcome
- Representing a client before a governing body, such as a court
- Mediating a client’s legal responsibilities or rights
If you have a potential circumstance, such as the vague possibility of divorce, that escalates to a definite situation, such as a verbal declaration of the desire to divorce, you are better off seeking legal advice rather than information.
What Are Examples of Legal Information?
One good way to determine if you’re reading legal information on a website or personal blog is to look for a disclaimer stating that anything you read should not be considered legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. Specific examples of legal information include:
- Free information obtained from legal sites
- Legal self-help documents
- Information from loved ones or a lawyer’s former client
- How-to guides
- Information heard on the radio or seen on social media platforms
Legal information is not always a bad thing. It has a purpose, but it’s essential that you understand the limitations of such knowledge.
Common Reasons for Seeking Legal Advice
Now that you have a better idea of what legal advice is, you may wonder why people seek it. One of the main reasons is that legal matters can easily become complicated, as demonstrated by the different types of lawyers who specialize in different areas of the law. For example, without the right business law attorney, you can quickly find yourself in legal hot water when starting a company or creating a contract.
Another reason to seek legal advice is to avoid spending time behind bars. Ignorance of certain laws is not always a solid legal defense or guard against legal punishment. Regarding civil cases, failing to secure legal advice could cost you money. Neglecting to turn your case over to a lawyer and their advice because you don’t have the financial resources to do so is understandable. That being said, not all civil attorneys require payment from their clients if they do not successfully win a case. Situations exist wherein a civil case plaintiff can claim legal fees on her or his taxes.
If you are ever a defendant in a legal case, you need proper legal advice to understand how to challenge the proof brought against you. For instance, presented evidence may have been obtained illegally, but you may not know that without a lawyer’s advice and knowledge. While giving testimony, a witness could contradict an earlier statement, a fact that could slip your awareness. Evidence may be suppressed or tampered with, as well.
If you want to start a business or create a business contract, consider consulting with a lawyer who specializes in business law. Perhaps you felt someone violated a business contract, or maybe you want to merge with or acquire another business. Either scenario calls for a lawyer’s advice.
If you ever face criminal charges, you’ll want a criminal lawyer’s legal advice. Lawyers have current, trusted insight on laws, legal rights, courts and judges.
You have access to plenty of DIY resources for estate planning. Defer to legal advice if you truly want to protect your assets and take care of your loved ones after you’re gone. You do not want to risk your assets going through intestacy. That means the state decides how to divide your assets. You may not like how the state handles your belongings, property and other assets, awarding them to relatives whom you may not want receiving your prized possessions or financial assets.
Touching back on divorce, family law issues require trusted legal advice. Just because you’re going through a marital split or child custody issue, both of which are quite common, does not mean you’re better off with standard legal information.
Besides divorce and child custody, you may have a guardianship case. Maybe you want to take care of a non-biological child, or the child of parents who either cannot or will not provide for the child. Both situations require establishing legal guardianship, so the child’s overall welfare becomes your legal responsibility. You may adopt the child, a decision that requires personalized legal advice.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Do you think you may need legal advice in a specific area of the law rather than generalized legal information? Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!