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In the common law, legal advice is the giving of a formal opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law, which is usually received from a solicitor, barrister or lawyer, ordinarily in exchange for financial or other tangible compensation. Advice given without remuneration is normally referred to as being pro bono publico (in the public good), or colloquially, pro bono.
The UK's Legal Services Act 2007 includes the giving of legal advice within the definition of unreserved legal activities, which means that it can be provided by any person not just an officer of the court. However, if it is provided by a lawyer or another person authorised by one of the front line legal services regulators, then this activity is included within their regulatory reach.
Legal advice is distinguished from legal information which is the reiteration of legal fact. Legal information can be conveyed by a parking meter, sign or by other forms of notice such as a warning by a law enforcement officer. Printed legal materials, such as directions and how-to manuals, are generally not considered legal advice. Accordingly, directions on how to fill in a motion form and other court documents do not constitute legal advice. On the other hand, application of legal rules and principles to a specific set of facts is almost always held to constitute legal advice.
Online legal advice
With the advent of the internet, many services have been established to provide individuals the power to conduct their own legal research or prepare their own legal documents. Some companies have taken it a step further by offering answers to legal questions directly through their web services.
- Legal awareness
- Judge–advisor system, an entity used by academic researchers to study the giving and taking of advice
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