How to NOT Give Advice…

Q:

How do I say ‘no’ to friends and family wanting legal advice, as a student and as a professional? It’s relatively easy to get out of that situation when you’re not yet qualified. But once we are, it’s a real struggle to fend off friends and relatives asking us questions we can’t possibly answer. What is your advice about answering those questions without offending your nearest and dearest? 

A:

From time to time we will have people asking us for legal advice – particularly in the case of family or friends. We may feel that we are not qualified in offering a response, or that it would be inappropriate because of the compromising position it puts us as we are unable to look at things objectively. We all have an obligation as lawyers not to act when we have a conflict of interest. However it can be difficult to explain this to a friend or relative who comes to us for help.

I usually explain that I can either be your friend, brother, cousin etc or your lawyer, but I cannot be both.

This is because any advice that I could give would be biased because of the relationship. I usually tell them that it is because I have their best interests at heart that they need to get their advice elsewhere.
Make a good referral for them. They will thank you for it.

Joel