Legal Advice: Why It Can’t Be Given Away For Free
To begin with, let’s take a look at just what “legal advice” is. Going online it is interesting to note there are numerous definitions from a wide variety of sources. Each definition has similarities but there are some subtle differences. The following are several of the most complete:
Wikipedia: “the giving of a professional or formal opinion regarding the substance or procedures of the law in relation to a particular factual situation.”
State Definitions of the Practice of Law-American Bar Association: “Providing advice or preparing documents for another, which affect legal rights or duties.” Regarding 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 either obtained, secured or given away,”
Black’s Law Dictionary: “view, opinion, the counsel given by lawyers to their clients; an opinion expressed as to the wisdom of future conduct.”
Legal Advice Dictionary: “the giving of a formal opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law usually received from a solicitor, barrister or lawyer, ordinarily for a fee”
FindLaw: “Legal advice refers to the written or oral counsel about a legal matter that would affect the rights and responsibilities of the person receiving the advice. In addition, actual legal advice requires careful analysis of the law as it applies to a person’s specific situation–as opposed for speculation based on generic facts.”
While it is true many people today are choosing to represent themselves there is still a need for legal advice and representation from a practicing attorney whose profession is to provide accurate and up to date legal advice and help. It is not against the law for an attorney to give free legal advice and help but in most instances, unless the work is pro bono for a specific situation, giving legal advice for free is not a favorable idea.
To begin with, and probably the most important, is that it takes many years and a great deal of intense study to understand and interpret the law. Additionally, each state has its own set of laws and to make matters even more complicated, those laws are constantly changing. As with any professional whether fixing your body or your car or building your house or handling the books for your business, fair recompense is standardly expected. Attorneys deserve to be paid too.
Furthermore, if a practicing attorney gives free advice or fills out documents, and anything goes wrong, it opens him or her to malpractice liability. He/she should be in a position to take care of the situation and this would not happen if there was no fee received.
There are many places a person can go to get ideas and information regarding legal matters. Often documents can be downloaded. Many courthouses have pamphlets with helpful information regarding general concerns such as divorce and child support. Information will give procedures to be followed by all, such as where to file a petition and a copy of certain forms to be filled out. All states have Statutes detailing their state’s particular rules and guidelines and these statues can be viewed online and downloaded, if desired. However, specific legal advice and help pertaining to a specific situation is available only from attorneys who are well worth their years of training and their on-going knowledge of just what is necessary for your individual needs and concerns.