Is Free Advice Always Good Advice? A Raleigh Lawyer Tries to Explain
While reputable Raleigh law firms like Kurtz & Blum, PLLC charge a reasonable rate for their services, they often offer some preliminary services for free, like the initial consultation and case evaluation. In special cases, lawyers may provide their services for free (also known as pro bono) or a reduced fee to certain organizations, charities or people with very limited means.
The Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association once again held the annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day on January 31st. Volunteer attorneys were on hand in ten cities across North Carolina to answer questions and offer advice to all citizens.
We support this initiative since it gives young attorneys an opportunity to give back to the community. And it offers the public something good, especially for those with limited means to retain an attorney or for less serious issues that might not justify the expense of an established attorney or law firm.
But free advice is good only as long as it’s good advice. Bad advice is bad regardless of who gives it, and it sometimes takes a knowledgeable, skilled attorney with years of experience to know the difference.
For a layperson, it can sometimes be hard to spot the difference between good and bad legal advice. Attorneys often offer advice that may appear on the surface to be “bad” because it doesn’t promote the outcome that a client may have been hoping for. An attorney may suggest a certain course of action to minimize the potential long-term risk that a client may face, and this may result in a short-term loss to the client. An attorney may suggest that a client take a favorable plea deal or settlement offer instead of risking trial, because there is always the risk of uncertainty when it comes to trials. Every situation and case is different. There are almost always extenuating circumstances that factor into the best course of action for any client. Typically, there are positive and potentially negative possible outcomes and these need to be weighed against one another.
A trustworthy Raleigh lawyer will always attempt to uncover all the facts and layout all the options. We are ethically bound to always try to offer advice that we feel is in our client’s best interest. This is a critical benefit that cannot be understated. Too often, clients fear that their defense attorney may be working in the best interest of the System or in their own best interests.
The truth is that reputable defense attorneys must act solely in their client’s best interest. Doing anything short of that is a breach of the highest ethical standards and abdicates their fiduciary responsibility.
(Source: “NC Bar Association offers free legal advice in 10 locations,” Associated Press, January 31, 2015)