Friends Want Your Legal Advice, Just Not Your Bill

Two readers wanted to know why I’ve never written about how difficult clients can be. I don’t write about clients because I’ve never had one. But I do have friends constantly asking me for legal advice, they just don’t want to pay me for it. As every law student/lawyer knows, by Thanksgiving break of your first year you’ll start getting requests for free legal advice.

You will be asked to draft wills, listen to landlord/tenant complaints, divorce issues,etc. After a few drinks with your friends, one will pull you aside and whisper something like, “So if I meet someone in the bar, and they say they’re 21, and then after I sleep with her, I find out she’s 16, it’s the bar’s fault for not checking, right?”

It really doesn’t matter if you know the answer or not, because no matter what you tell them, you’re screwed. If you give them advice that they don’t want to hear, they’ll say they saw the same sort of thing on Boston Legal and the character didn’t get arrested on TV. If you tell them you don’t know the answer, your friends will get angry. But you’re a LAWYER, they will sputter, how could you not know?

I’ve decided there is the only one right answer when giving free legal advice. From now on, I will just smile and say, “It depends.”