Lawyers Break Down The Worst Legal Advice They've Ever Seen Given Online

Stop listening....

Lawyers Break Down The Worst Legal Advice They've Ever Seen Given Online
Image by Sang Hyun Cho from Pixabay

Objection! Much like WebMD, everyone should not use the internet for a for the legal equivalent. If you need legal representation, then put some pennies together and get some, or do the only research you should, find free legal aide. Too many people are trusting people they'll never see for life matters that are too important. Once and awhile some lawyers take a look to see what's being thrown about and most of it is problematic.

Redditor u/NoodlesTheKitty wanted to hear from employees of the court about the times they couldn't believe what they were hearing and seeing by asking.... Lawyers of Reddit - what is the worst advice you've seen on r/legal advice?

Different Place... Different Troubles....

Lawyer GIF by memecandyGiphy

I'm a lawyer and the biggest mistake I see people make is assuming the law is the same everywhere. There is a reason we need to be licensed in every state to practice there. Furthermore, if it's not your specific area of expertise, a general knowledge of the law is probably not enough.


In Bad Faith

Not r/legaladvice but r/exmormon for legal advice. I remember the time someone was mentioning they were gearing up for a divorce but didn't have enough money to retain an attorney for the proceedings. Someone on the sub gave them the advice that they should get consultations with all of the top divorce attorneys in the region. The reasoning was that if the attorney has consulted with one side in a case that they are obligated to not be able to represent the other side. They wanted the spouse to also not have access to an attorney.

Comes out later that OP actually took that advice & consulted with 30 divorce attorneys. None were able to take the case so spouse has a hard time hiring one. Eventually the spouse & attorney found the thread on reddit and were able to tie the account back to OP.

Judge not only rules totally in favor of the spouse but OP was also ordered to pay part of the attorneys fees due to abuse of process, acting in bad faith, etc which made things more expensive for her.

Here's a thread summerizing it all.


"not a lawyer" 

In a thread asking about the legality of physically assaulting people who don't wear masks in public (Big surprise, its still assault) the general consensus was "Feeling strongly enough about something means laws don't matter."

I tend to notice its common on reddit to have this weird, psychotic power fantasy going on where you can respond to minor rudeness with immediate and overwhelming violence and be applauded for it while doing so.

A lot of advice in r/legaladvice from "not a lawyer" types seems to advocate blatantly illegal and often violent behavior in reprisal to some pretty minor slights. The mod team is pretty good at taking down these types of comments, but you still see a lot of them.



Looking Jim Carrey GIF by Golden GlobesGiphy

The only half decent advice I've ever seen come from that sub was what kind of lawyer you need to look for. It's safest to assume that everyone else is a cop or a maroon.


100% Wrong

It was regarding a noncompete or some kind of employment contract. All of the advice in the thread, including from quality contributor flared posters, was saying "looks like you're stuck, it's a contract and you agreed to it, consider it a life lesson."

With 2 minutes of research I found an appellate case directly on point from the relevant jurisdiction saying "employers can't enforce this contractual clause because it's against public policy." Meaning that everyone else giving advice in the thread was correct generally, but 100% wrong for the OP.

Lexis/westlaw searches (the way lawyers research the law) are obscenely expensive, so I don't expect anyone in r/legaladvice to be doing them out-of-pocket to help internet randos. But I found it with google. Either way, if you're posting there giving advice half-cocked, not knowing the full facts or law, I feel like you're violating your ethical obligations as an attorney.


Not Reddit

I'm a lawyer. So much of it is straight up garbage. It's pretty clearly full of folks googling away. The best answers are often downvoted lol. I followed legal advice for a few days or something and bounced as fast as possible.

Don't rely on Reddit if you need advice.


Great Ponds

I'm not a lawyer but I really enjoyed the person talking about my state's Great Ponds law. The question was asking what to do about people trespassing on OP's boat ramp at their summer cabin. According this poster, the Great Ponds law says there needs to be access, so therefore OP is out of luck. In reality, the law says that the town must provide public access to lakes or ponds over a certain size, not that you can just walk through anybody's property to get there.



viola davis side eye GIF by ABC NetworkGiphy

In my opinion, there are only three actual pieces of advice from that sub.

  1. Call the police
  2. Get a lawyer
  3. You're screwed. MooKids

Have a Nice Life

I'm not a lawyer, but I used to browse r/legaladvice. A year or two ago, there was a girl who was looking for options to prevent her parents from taking her back to the ancestral third-world country for a year for "school" or something. The post was chock-full of red flags; from the context it seemed pretty likely that the actual reason was far more sinister (I don't remember the specifics, but it seemed likely she would be married off, and in any case would not be returning to the USA at any point).

As I recall, she seemed reluctant to leave her friends for "a year" and didn't look forward to the trip, but she seemed oblivious that there might be something worse in store. Specifics aside, everyone was justifiably scared for her.

Nobody had any particularly useful legal advice, because it turns out there's not really anything illegal about leaving the country with your minor/dependent child with a good cover story, and her few preemptive legal options would have required more money and freedom than she had.

People did, however, have a lot of practical advice. Things like, "under no circumstances should you get on the plane," "talk to a teacher ASAP," "if you can't avoid going to the airport, pocket something that'll earn you a private interview with security and tell them you're being trafficked," etc. Again, I don't remember all the specifics, and maybe not all the advice was useful. But some of it was stuff the girl probably needed to read.

The comments section got ripped apart by the mods. It was just a graveyard of deleted posts followed by "This comment has been removed because it does not contain any legal advice." And the post itself was removed later with a short note to the effect that "this is not something we can help you with, have a nice life."

I get it, a sub has rules to keep the conversation focused, and you don't want to get in the habit of making exceptions, or the rules no longer mean anything. But those rules are enforced by people, not robots, and sometimes a rule-breaking comment could literally save a life. Have a little empathy.

I unsubscribed that day. I hope the girl is okay.


You Never Know

Law Lawyer GIF by GIPHY Studios OriginalsGiphy

For people unaware there are no qualifications to be a contributor on r/LegalAdvice. So you could be getting responses from actual qualified lawyers or it could be a 15 yr old repeating garbage they heard on the internet.


Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.


Reaching 50 is a life goal.

Getting to that milestone is something we should all aim for.

So many years, so much life lived.

Which means there is so much story to tell.

Who can't help but look back and advise about how to do it better?

Keep reading...Show less
Grossed out woman sticking her tongue out
Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

Dating can be pretty fun, but like anything else, there are going to be some bad or weird dates.

But sometimes the person we think we're really into will do something so repulsive, we know instantly that relationship is over.

Keep reading...Show less
Puerto Rico flag
Ana Toledo/Unsplash

This November, Puerto Ricans can vote on one of three options–including becoming the 51st state in the U.S.

The U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Puerto Rico Status Act last December.

The bill would grant the island commonwealth either U.S. statehood, independence, or independence while retaining some U.S. affiliations.

Keep reading...Show less