Why is it illegal to give your opinion/advice about a legal problem or case if you are not licensed or do not have a lawyer/client contract?

Findlaw.com says it's ok if you are just a friend, or if you give general information but not to a specific case.

The reason I am asking is because as I look at it for the first time, it sounds a bit in contradiction with the principle of free speech, or the right to engage in a free non-binding exchange of opinions.

If the main reason is that you may be "dangerously wrong", why isn't the same logic applied to every other aspect of life like cooking, how to fix the foundation of your house.. etc? Putting wrong ingredients in your recipe can poison you. A weak foundation may cause your house to collapse and kill you.

  • @grovkin I don't think this is a legal question, because the issue seems to be specific to the USA (and maybe a few other countries). In most countries I'm familiar with, it's perfectly normal for anyone to give legal advice, as long as you don't falsely claim having the credentials.
    – Jouni Sirén
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 8:10
  • @JouniSirén The problem being specific to the USA does not make it political either. Most laws are specific to specific countries, and Law Stack Exchange has country-tags to handle this. I also think that this question fits better on Law.SE because it falls directly into their area of expertise. I will migrate it.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 11:17
  • @grovkin This is not a legal question because it is not about what the law is, but why it is that way. It belonged on Politics.SE.if anywhere. Voting to close, as I did on the previous version. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


In many parts of the world the legal profession is heavily regulated. One must pass a bar exam to practice law.

You probably won't get into trouble for pretending to be a florist or a poet, but pretending to be a lawyer or a physician or an accountant may be a crime.


The danger is that if someone gets the impression that you are a lawyer you could end up in trouble for impersonating one when you have not actually passed the bar exam. By explicitly stating that they are not a lawyer and not giving legal advice, they avoid that possibility.

  • What about if I specify that I am not a lawyer, but still give non-binding legal advice as an opinion based on experience?
    – Alex Doe
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 4:39
  • @AlexDoe Legally speaking, saying "I'm not a lawyer" is a valid method of not giving legal advice. If you do give an opinion about the law you are just discussing legal matters. Legal advice, like medical advice have a very specific meaning which you can demand payment for and sue the person you gave advice to if they refuse to pay
    – slebetman
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 8:13
  • In other words, "legal advice" is a specific service like "opening a bank account". You may run an online Monopoly server and allow users to "open an account" as long as you're not doing what banks actually do you don't need to be regulated. Same applies to "legal advice"
    – slebetman
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 8:14
  • 1
    @slebetman , That makes a lot of sense. Maybe people who are affraid to discuss their opinion about law, are just confused about what "legal advice" means. Can you make that an answer with some links to back it?
    – Alex Doe
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 8:54

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