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Lawyers Are Offering $5,000 A Year In Free Advice To Family And Friends

If you have a close friend or family member who went to law school, it can be very tempting to ask for a bit of legal advice over barbecue dinner.

Hey, you have a burning legal question and they're just standing there with their Juris Doctor and drink in hand, waiting patiently for the grilled chicken to be served. They're relaxed, you're relaxed. What's the harm in asking?

It turns out you're not alone if you've ever uttered, "Hey, you're a lawyer...can I ask you a question?": A full 68% of attorneys in a new Robert Half Legal survey say their friends and family often ask them for free legal advice. In fact, the lawyers surveyed estimate they're offering $5,000 worth of free legal advice on average every year.

The lawyers surveyed see these requests as a mixed bag. 21% find the advice-seekers in their lives rather burdensome, but 65% say they're actually pleased to help. That's right, two-thirds of the attorneys surveyed say they're pleased to offer their legal advice. So maybe attorneys aren't quite as focused on creating any and all billable hours as the stereotype suggests.

Robert Half Legal, however, warns against getting too carried away in cross-examining the lawyer in the family:
"Nearly everyone with expertise in a specific area is approached by a friend or family member for informal advice from time to time, and lawyers are no exception," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "Although most in the legal field take these requests in stride, when someone is approached too often, and by too many people, it can feel like a burden. In these situations, it may be best to make a referral and then move on."

So if the lawyer in your life suddenly blurts out that he or she has "a lawyer friend you should talk to," you might have overstepped a personal boundary or worse, turned into a legal leech who is sucking all the Schrute Bucks from his or her $5,000-a-year pro bono familia fund. Then you'll sit and wonder why Uncle Bob, J.D. never comes to your family barbecues anymore. Is it something you said? Quite possibly, yes.


  1. I'd bet that the lawyers who would bitch about giving out "free advice" probably wouldn't hesitate to ask a mechanic at a party about the thumping noise in their car when they turn a corner... In both cases, the "highly valued advice" would mainly consist of "Yeah, sounds like you have a problem. Call my office/bring the car over to my shop and we could make an appointment."

  2. Thereby proving that everything's relative, I guess. I smell a follow-up survey question.


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