9

The outcome of this question depends in part on the outcome of Updated: Can we get a blanket disclaimer out of the way?, and I don't know if the latter issue has been completely solved. Nonetheless, I think that this is still an important issue.

I see a lot of disclaimers on answers, generally running along the lines of

I am not your lawyer, nor does my answer constitute legal advice. Seek out a personal lawyer for any legal issues.

Great. But after a while, this gets tiresome. First-time users may not know this, but for most avid users, we get the point after a while. I am continuously tempted to edit these disclaimers out.

Another thing is that legal advice should not be asked for here. If people ask questions that ask for legal advice, the questions will be shut down. This - and additional helpful comments - should help people realize that they will not get legal advice here.

So why should we include disclaimers in answers? Answers should not contain legal advice, and so it should be clear that they do not contain legal advice. Furthermore, if a boilerplate disclaimer is just fine, these disclaimers are completely redundant.

Should people put disclaimers in answers, or not?


I don't think that this is a duplicate of Updated: Can we get a blanket disclaimer out of the way?, because I still see disclaimers in answers. Also notably, the question on Main that jimsug referenced, Does a boilerplate legal disclaimer protect authors of content on a website?, essentially said "it depends". We don't really have a definite decision yet.

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As someone that puts these in a selection but not all of my answers, allow me to explain my rationale.

Law firms I've worked at have been concerned about negligence claims from non-retained clients (for instance, people who ask for information over the phone). The fact is that answering questions in this way could cause exposure for me, and I'm not sufficiently convinced that people won't think of this as free legal advice and that it wouldn't be treated as such if contested.

I've had a bit of a discussion in chat about this, and the only thing I can conclude about it in general is that either:

  • Law.SE needs to address the concerns about this - because people like me might stop answering otherwise - or
  • We need an authoritative, legal opinion on this in as many persuasive jurisdictions as possible, that states that we don't need it

A possible solution would be a conspicuous statement to the effect that we are not a substitute for legal advice, somewhere on the site. There are probably others, which I hope StackExchange will consider.

Personally, I will probably continue to at least note that I am not a lawyer, at some point in my posts where I interpret the law, rather than just state it. If I do, I will probably make it conspicuous.

3

Put a short one in the site banner, linked to a longer policy statement. I am a lawyer (by degree, bar exam passed, licensure pending), and I'd appreciate it. I tailor my answers in a way that I'm comfortable I'm providing sufficiently generic information on the legal context asked about and not providing counsel, but I'd still appreciate the safeguard.

2

I am not your lawyer, nor does my answer constitute legal advice. Seek out a personal lawyer for any legal issues.

I think we should somehow put this as a site policy if it isn't already, that statement should blanket every answer on the site.

As jimsug mentioned in his answer there are plenty of reasons to expedite this and make certain that both question askers, and answerers, are legally protected from the fallout. As well as frivolous lawsuits.

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