Using Forums to Answer Legal Questions

Filed as Features on February 11, 2008 9:58 am

With the current legal climate on the Web, running into a few questions about the law is almost inevitable. However, finding out where to take those questions or who to ask can be a very difficult matter.

One of the best places to get answers is actually a throwback to the pre-blogging Web, communities and forums.

Sites such as the Performancing Legal Issue Forum, where I answer questions regularly, can not only provide a great place to ask and receive answers to your questions, but also to offer your own opinion on those posted by others.

Though advice given on forums should never be taken as legal advice, no matter who is offering it, forums can be a valuable tool in when navigating the confusing world of legal law if used properly.

Reasons to Post

If you encounter a legal issue or have a question legal matter, there are two advantages to posting them to a forum such as Performancing’s.

First, posting your question in a forum environment gives you the chance to get multiple opinions about the case, not just one person’s input. Since no one person is perfect, getting more input not only means you can develop a consensus, but also bring in other aspects that go beyond the law including ethics and standards.

Likewise, it also allows others to expand upon the question by changing different variables and looking at the issue in different ways. This can help explore alternatives to very risky behavior and develop ways to avoid conflicts in the future.

Finally, posting a question in a forum creates a public record of it and the responses it receives. This helps others with the same or a similar question get the answers they need or at least offer them some direction as to where to look.

In short, taking advantage of community help with these matters not only helps find an answer, but also helps others that you, most likely, have never met.

Not Legal Advice

Of course, any time you ask a question on an Internet forum, Performancing’s or elsewhere, you should never assume that the answer is legal advice, even if the reply is coming from an attorney.

The reason is that only an attorney working for you can provide legal council on your behalf. Though forum environments can answer simple questions fairly definitively and provide great discussion on more complicated ones, only an attorney under your employ, one intimately familiar with all aspects of your case, can provide true legal advice.

There are many questions that should only be answered by such an attorney and many of the situations you encounter will require exactly that for a definitive answer.

With that being said, there is still a great deal to be gained from such forums, if run well. The dialog can be immensely useful and, at times, the best advice you can get isn’t even law-related, but ethical guidance or even ways to avoid the situation altogether.

Getting the Best Results

Since forum members, though often very knowledgeable about the law, can’t provide legal advice the best thing to look for and take to heart is not their opinions, but their research.

The best answers contain heavy amounts of relevant cases and legal doctrine that enable you to make your own decisions, rather than simply stating their personal opinion.

Because, while opinions can be valuable, they should always be taken with a grain of salt. The law and case history is something that can be researched and followed up on conclusively.

By using the research and pointers provided, you not only gain access to information you might not have found by searching on your own, but are also able to delve deeper into the matter yourself and better understand the complexities of the issue.

Even if there is no conclusive answer, as if often the case, the deeper your own understanding goes, the better. This can not only help you avoid legal conflicts, but also help you save time and money should one arise later.

Conclusions

All totaled, if you seek out communities that are well-run and go into it knowing that you are not receiving legal advice, getting help from a forum can not only help you make sense of the Web, but also those who come after you.

But what is more important than where you take your questions is that they are answered by knowledgeable people who are going to take your interests to heart. This can be hard to tell on a forum, or anywhere else on the Web for that matter, and that is why it can be so important, when dealing with issues that could put you in legal jeopardy, to seek out legal council when necessary.

In the end, posting your issues to a forum is a great tool for navigating the murky legal waters of the Web. However, it is just that, a single tool.

It should never be treated as the definitive guide or the only source of information. It is at least as important to think for yourself, do your own research and talk with others you know.

But given the current legal climate on the Web, using every tool you have available not only makes sense, but is a virtual necessity.

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  1. By Ruth Wright posted on February 20, 2008 at 11:12 am
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    my son was arrested on a technical violation of probation for being at work (his probation officer went to his job and saw him) when he had on his list to be at home. can you tell me how long can they hold him for another county before they have to turn him loose. Also, they have not taken him to first appearance and he has been held for 8 days already. we cannot find anything out no one will tell us anything.

    Reply

  2. By jim posted on March 2, 2008 at 10:42 pm
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    Attorney 6 years and case still opened. He now says wife is sick, and either out of town and not getting answers. He won the case and it was appealed an tossed out of appellate court for lack of jurisdiction two years ago…Should I get a new attorney which would be more money and then the new attorney would have to research> The case involves my father who died 6 years ago? Should I report the attorney I have now to the Board?

    Reply

  3. By Warner posted on November 23, 2008 at 7:44 pm
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    can i sue my son’s mom to recover child support that she received while my son was living with me. she never sent any money to him for the support i paid out for him. my son should have gotten this money but never did. please respond, thank you.

    Reply

  4. By Peabody posted on December 8, 2008 at 9:51 pm
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    http://www.Lawfiles.net is one such legal forum that provides free responses from attorneys. I tried it and it was pretty useful. I would use it again if I had another legal question.

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  5. By Peabody posted on January 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm
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    I tried out lawfiles.net too. I was really surprised. It is pretty cool to get a bit of free legal advice — even though it is not really legal advice (as this article explains). I have to say, I didn’t expect to get anything back, but my legal question was answered and the response was pretty good.

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  6. By tor posted on June 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm
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    I got caught shoplifting alcohol from top foods. It was just one can of an alocholic energy drink, but i’m 18. What do i need to do? I have a court date in two weeks. Do i need to find a lawyer? Am i going to go to jail? Will this be on my record? And do you know if anything gets sent home in the mail?

    Reply

  7. By bozneka posted on July 15, 2009 at 12:54 am
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    I found http://digg.com/playable_web_games/Buy_FFXI_Gil_from_a_Trusted_Seller – buy ffxi gil recently – anybody know much about it?

    Thanks guys

    Reply

  8. By curiousme posted on November 9, 2009 at 9:07 pm
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    What are some steps a father should take when preparing to gain custody of a child?

    Reply

  9. By zinymegan posted on November 24, 2009 at 7:09 am
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    Hey Guys,

    I am a student (limited budget) and have seen a few offers for free ipods and iphones. Does anyone Know if any if the free IPhone or Ipod offers are actually legit? I don’t want to waste my time filling out a hundred surveys and was hoping to hear from someone who may have had some success with this.

    Thanks

    Reply

  10. By chefcarl1210 posted on December 10, 2009 at 2:09 am
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    What is the difference (if any) between a debt card and a credit card in a theft case?
    Is a debit card still considered a credit card that makes the charge a felony or is it not a felony with a debit card?

    Reply

  11. By Pijay posted on August 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm
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    Expedia screwed up an airline ticket so it could not be used. I notified them immediately but customer service ignored the notice and chose not to correct it. There was plenty of time. I notified United Airlines but they chose not to correct it. I complained to American Express but they chose not to correct it. So all of them wanted me to pay for an airline ticket that could not be used (they spelled the name wrong). I canceled the American Express Card but what can I do about the unresolved claim of $300 owed?

    Reply

  12. By Pijay posted on August 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm
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    I made bail for a close friend. ($4000). The friend promised to pay it back as soon as the court appearance (when the bail is refunded). Now the friend refuses to pay the bail and no longer talks to me. What can I do?

    Reply

  13. By Maddog29 posted on August 29, 2010 at 4:25 pm
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    I purchase a new home five years ago. The neighborhood is very uniform and everyone have Red Maple, Over-cup Oak, Japanese Elm ‘Accolade, or Crape Myrtle trees landscape in the front yard. Unlike everyone else in my neighborhood, my Red Maple Tree is growing out control and the roots of this tree are visibly spreading toward my house, the electrical junction box, and the sidewalk. If the builder possibly planted the wrong type of maple tree, could they be held liable for damages?

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  14. By Jacky posted on September 7, 2010 at 11:56 pm
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    I just tried the http://www.LawFiles.net website mentioned above. I have to say, I submitted a legal question and got an answer. Wow. Can’t believe that actually works.

    Reply

  15. By Teri posted on November 19, 2010 at 1:22 am
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    Who represents a corporation to defend a small claims action?

    Reply

  16. By J. Owens posted on December 17, 2010 at 2:36 am
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    My boyfriend led me on for over 3 years saying he wanted to marry me, but, no, let’s wait. Over and over again. I did everything a married woman would do for her husband and then some. I was his chauffeur wherever we went as he is almost blind. When we went to the doctor’s office, I would be addressed as Mrs. and he would never correct them. I saved his life twice and he got the surgeries he needed to continue to go on living. I feel I was used and then discarded. I feel he owes me remuneration of some kind.

    Reply

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