As per the title, I am (as a non-lawyer) helping someone in a dispute where fraud has occurred.

If I'm helping the person write a letter to one of the involved parties based on my advice, if I help her produce a letter which says she has "taken advice" (and I am the one advising her), would this be construed as a claim she has received advice specifically from a lawyer?

Put another way, if someone claims to have "taken advice", and the advice they received was from a non-lawyer, is the claim misleading?

  • Could someone answer whether this makes any difference legally? "I have taken advice, and I believe you should pay me £100 for my damages within 14 days". Does it make a difference legally whether a lawyer told me this, or some bloke in the pub, or I made it up? – gnasher729 Feb 28 at 22:46
  • @gnasher729 - it might. If falsely advised them "this comes from a lawyer", they might be justified in thinking that this is a legal opinion [from a lawyer with obligations to the crown] and will behave based on that opinion. I agree in practice its not likely to make much difference unless a relevant duty can be proved between the sender of the letter and the recipient , but I also don't want to give the person I'm helping the wrong idea. – davidgo Feb 28 at 23:10
  • Is it actually legal advice and are you concerned about UPL separate from the wording you are asking about? – George White Mar 1 at 0:59
  • @GeorgeWhite Im not sure if, were I to say the exact thing as a lawyer, it would be legal advice. Im not worried about practicing law unlawfully. Words have meanings though, and Im unsure if I understand the meaning of these adequately. – davidgo Mar 1 at 2:38
  • @davidgo Why use the phrase at all? Does it add any value to the intended message? – Rock Ape Mar 1 at 7:18

I belive that in British English, and other versions of English derived from BrE, "to have taken advice" usually means to have obtained a formal professional opinion, often from a lawyer, but it could be from an accountant, an architect, or any other sort of professional.

To use such a phrase in a business letter might well imply having obtained a professional opinion of some sort, and be misleading if the advice was casual or personal instead of professional. Even if the phrase was misleading, that might not be a legal issue, depending on the circumstances of the letter.

If the issue is a specifically legal one, any professional advice would most likely be legal advice, and in that case that would be the implication of the phrase, I would think.

  • Also, if the OP is not a lawyer and the advice is legal advice they are breaking the law – Dale M Mar 1 at 3:29
  • @DaleM That is not at all clear. In many jurisdictions "practice of law" in this sense is limited to representing a person in court or at a hearing, or preparing documents or giving advice for a fee or as on';re primary duty as an employee.This is true of Alabama and Colorado, for example. Unpaid occasional giving of advice by a non-lawyer who does not claim to be a lawyer is not UPL in many places. In the US there might be a First Amendment issue in such a charge. – David Siegel Mar 1 at 3:54

if someone claims to have "taken advice", and the advice they received was from a non-lawyer, is the claim misleading?

No. The language "taken advice" does not imply "taken legal advice", let alone one arising from an attorney-client relation or taken from someone purporting to be a lawyer.

The language "taken advice" in and of itself leaves the advisor's capacity unspecified. For instance, the non-lawyer might be an accountant whose advice goes beyond a lawyer's scope or expertise.

That being said, it is unclear whether adding that expression is useful at all.

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