The Dangers of Relying on Online Advice

Relying on online legal advice can be tricky. The internet is a vast place full of easily accessible information—whether the information is accurate or applies to your situation is a different story. Many firms, clinics, organizations, and individuals post information discussing various legal topics. While legal information may be posted generally, these general rules may not apply to your particular case.

Relying on inaccurate information or applying that information to your matter in a blanketed fashion can harm your case. It can also make you think you are entitled to damages, when in realty, that is not the case.

Whether a post or article provides legal advice, or whether you are seeking legal advice online—be careful. While it may be tempting to rely on such information or advice, there are many reasons to reconsider.

Online Legal Posts and Legal Advice

Legal posts might not provide all the nuances of the law, be completely accurate, or be up to date. Relying on incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated legal information can lead to owing damages or to believing one is owed damages when that is false.

Relying on either incorrect substantive or procedural information can harm your case. Missing an important step and not knowing your proper limitation period or court deadlines can be fatal to your matter.

Some people might also come across advice in an online thread that they believe applies to their matter. Some might seek legal advice online by posting the question generally to see whether someone can provide them with guidance and answers.

However, relying on this type of advice carries the same risk of harm to your case—likewise, the consequences can be severe.

Relying on Online Legal Advice Instead of Consulting with a Legal Professional

The limit to online posts and articles—especially when they provide legal advice—is that this type of medium does not permit a two-way discussion about the particular facts of your matter. 

Online posts and articles are very much a one-way form of communication. The writer has already written on the subject and made a quasi-permanent posting without any need for consultation from the reader. This is because the purposes of many posts and articles are to provide legal information, not to solve a specific matter.

Simply put, a writer cannot consider every possible fact scenario and the details that would change the outcome. That must come through the two-way discussion found in the formation of a solicitor-client relationship. Legal matters are normally fact-based, meaning different facts can change whether a claim is available, how the matter will progress, what can be expected in terms of damages, and which strategy is best to use. To provide you with proper advice, a legal professional should have all the relevant information on your matter, so that the advice is tailored specifically to your own circumstances.

Furthermore, there may be an exception to your case you do not know to look for, or another factor that can change how the law applies to your case. The law is be riddled with nuances and exceptions, making it important to know exactly which law applies and how it will apply to your matter.

While it may also appear to be easier and cheaper to rely on legal advice found in an online thread or pose your own facts and questions online for someone to answer—these also carry significant risks. You do not know whether the person whose advice you are relying on is a legal professional, or is versed in that particular area of law. If you rely on incorrect information or improper advice, you will be hard-pressed to find any recourse.

It is also unlikely that a few thread posts would provide the individual giving the advice with sufficient information to consider all the legal issues of your matter, or the potential exceptions and nuances. They are also unable to closely examine your facts and documents, which can change the outcome of your case.

As such, while posts and articles can be a great starting point, if you have a legal issue, the best option is to have a consultation with a legal professional who can look at the facts of your matter and provide you with a tailored assessment and propose a course of action appropriate to your matter.

Contact Us for Help

If you are looking for legal advice regarding an employment or human rights matter, or have questions regarding legal advice found online, our team of experienced legal professionals at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support, visit our CLO program page for our strategic solutions.

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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as, or should be construed as legal advice, and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call 1-(800)771-7882, or email [email protected].

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