I Reddit on the Internets!

The proliferation of the Internet has resulted in numerous ways to seek legal advice that were unthinkable only a couple of decades ago. From one-on-one video chats with attorneys on law firm websites to free online legal forms, the practice of law is changing rapidly. Unfortunately, the rapid pace of technology sometimes obscures the fact that often legal advice from an attorney is just a bit more reliable than those helpful folks on the internet who might think they understand the law.

One recent example can be found in an exchange on the popular open-source website Reddit, where a user found himself in a troubling legal predicament after seeking divorce advice in a Reddit forum. According to the unidentified man who posted the tale of woe, he previously had asked for advice online concerning his plans to divorce his wife.

He reportedly received an anonymous reply that counseled on how to create a conflict of interest for any and all local attorneys that his wife might want to hire:

“You don’t have to hire the best or most expensive attorney. You need to consult with the top family attorneys in town. The lawyer cannot represent your ex to be if you’ve discussed your marriage with them. It’s a conflict of interest. Read up on it, there are a few tricks you can pull to help even the playing field.”

The Reddit user apparently responded to this advice by contacting as many as 30 divorce lawyers in the unnamed Utah town where he says he lives. The tactic briefly worked, according to the advice seeker, before his wife finally found an attorney to represent her and uncovered the scheme.

Despite being burned the first time, the man decided to seek help on Reddit’s “legaladvice” forum, which advises users: “Any advice found here IS NOT legal advice. Reddit is not a substitute for a real lawyer.” In his post titled “I’m in some deep (expletive) in a divorce,” the man noted that his wife had filed a motion asking the court to force him pay her legal fees based on his conduct.

The tug of war between practicing lawyers and non-lawyers who provide advice on the internet isn’t going away any time soon. But neither is the fact that sometimes the best way to stay out of trouble with legal system is to talk to someone who knows: a lawyer.

Posted: 9/23/2014 1:25:06 PM by Editor | with 0 comments

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About This Blog

Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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