Legal advice is one thing, legal information is another. By the very definition of “legal advice” versus“legal information” it can easily be seen why giving away legal advice is unwise while legal information can be useful. Here follows the definition of the two terms in question:
Legal advice: According to the State definitions of the Practice of Law- American Bar Association: “Providing advice or preparing documents for another, which affect legal rights or duties”. For those residing in Florida in particular, it states “giving legal advice and counsel to others as to their rights and obligations under the law and the preparation of legal instruments, including contracts, by which legal rights are obtained, secured, or given away.” Each state has its own set of laws and regulations which are frequently updated and it takes a person educated in the law and then continually reviewing the latest developments to be able to give accurate legal advice. “Homegrown” advice can be inaccurate and even dangerous just as using a well-meaning but untrained home mechanic can damage rather than repair a car. While it is true professional legal advice costs money, those dispensing the advice have spent years and many dollars in studies as well as the need for continuing education. Legal advice comes at a price, but so do most things of value in life. Too, each person’s case is unique to that person and it takes an attorney to know what specific laws and guidelines apply to that specific need.
Legal information: Information is defined by Wikipedia, the online dictionary as “facts provided or learned about something or someone”. In the legal sense information is a generic term which can apply to all people experiencing a particular legal need. For example, if you live in the state of Florida and are needing to receive child support for your minor children, there is a qualifying means test which can be obtained on-line. This information is available for free to any who need it and helps an individual determine if they are eligible to receive child support. Another example of free, helpful legal information in Florida is found in the state’s statutes regarding whatever type of legal problem a person may have. These informative statutes are available online to be read by all and give detailed guidelines for courts determining outcomes of general issues such as dissolution of marriage, wills, setting up a corporation, and bankruptcy. Courthouses may also have pamphlets which will help explain a legal procedure such as steps to obtaining a divorce. As noted, information must be of a nature helpful to all sharing the same or similar need. It is given to help a person better understand their issues and is not intended to be specific to an individual case or to determine the final outcome of a need. Additionally, forms used in legal proceedings can often be found online to be downloaded and then filled out, saving time and sometimes some attorney fees.
The Difference Between Legal Advice and Legal Information
In conclusion, the bottom line for an attorney in not giving out free legal advice is that if something goes wrong regarding the advice given or forms filled out there can be a malpractice suit. If there has been no fee received the attorney will have no way to settle the suit without putting him or herself in a monetary bind. Read and learn from free legal information; pay for legal advice when you are ready to proceed with your case.
AUTHOR: Grant Gisondo
Copyright Grant J. Gisondo, PA
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.