What is the Difference between Legal Information and Legal Advice?

Legal information and legal advice are often confused, or believed to be one in the same. However, they are very different; in general, legal information can be given by anyone, whereas legal advice can only come from a licensed attorney or a lawyer.

When a person is given legal information, it typically comes in the form of facts about certain aspects of the law. These generalizations can vary, but they will usually sound similar to the following:

  • “You can usually file a lawsuit for car accidents.”

  • “Gun laws don’t prohibit firearms in this state.”

While they do provide an overview of legal policies, they do not and cannot provide specific recommendations regarding what a person should do, or how they should go about following a specific course of action.

Legal advice, on the other hand, essentially tells a person what they should do in their specific legal situation. This typically comes from a consultation with an attorney, and creates an implied agreement between the attorney and the client. As opposed to legal information, legal advice requires in-depth knowledge of laws and legal principles, and uses this knowledge to apply the law to a client’s specific set of circumstances. This can sound comparable to the following:

  • “Based on the evidence and your injuries, you can file a lawsuit against the other motorist who caused the accident.”

  • “Here is the paperwork that you will need to fill out in order to obtain a gun permit in this state; however, know that you can only concealed carry in specific areas.”

As you can see, these statements are much more specific than the ones that are considered legal information; the above statements provide direct information based on the client’s interests and concerns, while the others just give an overview of what any person could know to be true.

Overall, legal information can come from a variety of different sources, including family, friends and most legal websites. However, legal advice can only come from an attorney or lawyer, who is educated and licensed to practice law. They are different primarily because of how specific they can be, and because legal advice creates the basis of an agreement between an attorney and his or her client.

Posted December 12, 2016
Note: The information on this website is NOT legal advice. The information provided on this site is not guaranteed and may be inaccurate; it is generic information for informal purposes only. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Before relying on any information found in this site you should consult with a licensed attorney in your state. If you are currently represented by an attorney, you should strictly abide by his/her counsel.