Legal Advice vs. Legal Information
What is Legal Advice?
Legal information and legal advice can both be useful in many different situations. However, it is important to know when you need one or the other. Legal advice can only be provided by a licensed attorney. Legal advice is when an attorney applies his or her legal expertise to your specific fact situation, and tells you how you should proceed. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Drafting or revising official legal documents
- Representing a person before a court or other government institution
- Creates duties or responsibilities for the person offering advice
- Affects the rights or responsibilities of the person seeking advice
What is Legal Information?
Legal information, on the other hand, can be given by anyone who is knowledgeable on the law. It is simply a statement of what the law is, without any application to your particular situation, leaving up to you the decision of how to proceed. Given the costs associated with hiring a lawyer, it is good to know when you need legal advice, and when you simply need legal information.
Should I Seek Legal Information or Legal Advice?
Legal advice should be sought when you have a legal problem and do not know how to proceed. This could include filing a lawsuit, or being sued. Also, if you are faced with a contract which you do not understand, you may want to seek a lawyer to advise you of what the contract says, and how it might change your legal situation. Legal advice is very detailed and tailored to particular predicaments.
Legal information is indicated in many more situations. If you have a question of whether or not a certain act is legal in the abstract, without regards to your specific situation, legal information will probably suffice. Legal information is typically general and devoid of any application to a specific problem.
Is There Anywhere I Can Find Legal Information?
To seek legal information, there are many organizations that will help you for free. The website LawHelp.org maintains a list of such organizations, divided by state and practice area. You can also conduct your own research, if the question is relatively simple, and not urgent. If you live near a university, it probably has a functional law library, and there are many free online resources. LegalMatch has an extensive online law library for legal information and a network of attorneys for solid legal advice.
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Last Modified: 06-27-2012 10:52 AM PDT