Questions that clearly ask for specific legal advice are off-topic for Law Stack Exchange.

This is to help protect users:

  • Those asking, from loss due to following incomplete advice, or advice from amateur legal enthusiasts
  • Those answering, from exposing themselves to unauthorized practice of law or malpractice claims

If you're here because your question was put on hold (or closed) for this reason, the below answer about closing points out some of the factors that indicate your question appears to be asking for legal advice, and has ways to improve or edit your post so that it is a viable candidate for reopening.

If you're here because you're not sure whether a question asks for specific legal advice, see the below answer about closing for ways to handle this situation.

See other discussions:

Of course, this policy is always up for discussion, so please feel free to start a new one!

  • 4
    There seems to be a gap in the bulleted topics. Some questions are about policy and procedure, and they are codified in law. A question asking for the procedures is not a matter of opinion or advice. An example is, how do I record my proceedings in District Court for my own records/notes in <favorite state here>. In the state I live in, the court provides the procedure. It is not a matter of advice or opinion.
    – jww
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


Closing for this reason: there is no single determinative factor

In general, questions that ask for legal advice have the following characteristics:

  • They use pronouns that indicate a personal relationship
    "My mother was involved in an accident around the corner from my house..."

  • They contain highly emotive language

  • They explicitly ask "What should I do?" or something similar in the question

  • They either provide or would require very specific details apparently from the question author's real-world circumstance (e.g. like the wording of their contract)

  • The only answer that you could safely give is "You should engage the services of a lawyer/attorney"

Important: The presence of these indicators is not absolute proof that the question specifically asks for legal advice, but multiple factors are strong evidence that it does.

Some questions might have the following characteristics, which indicates that they may not ask for legal advice:

  • They are explicitly phrased hypothetically: "Suppose I'm in a situation where..."
  • They use impersonal language and placeholder parties: "If person A does this to B..."
  • They ask for general information: "What legal recourse does B have?"

Again: The presence of these characteristics is not absolute proof that the question is general and does not ask for legal advice, but multiple factors are strong evidence that it does not.

But I have a question that does both!

This is part of the reason why humans vote to close: questions are read by humans, and they sometimes need some interpretation.

In the legal system, a common test is the reasonable person test - this isn't the average or even the typical person, but a reasonable person. Of course, this test can be highly subjective, and again, that's why it takes five votes from trusted users to close.

So a question has all of those characteristics, and I genuinely think it's asking for legal advice. I should vote to close it, right?

If you can edit the question to make it a question that asks for general legal information while preserving the original author's meaning, then you should edit rather than close. This will mean that we have more questions, more answers, and more visitors. However, this may not be possible on all questions, because you may not know what the original author's meaning or intent was.

Here's some more explicit guidance on doing this: How do I ask a general law question?

You should also see the Linked questions in the sidebar to the right (you won't be able to see this if you're in the mobile app or site).


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