"Fire my lawyer" thread closing

While I understand why you closed the “should I fire my lawyer” thread (Fire my lawyer? Hire a new one? Do the work myself? (mildly ranty) - In My Humble Opinion - Straight Dope Message Board), I respectfully disagree with your decision. The question the OP was really asking was whether it would be better for him to proceed with his duties as executor of his estate without representation, or with new representation. That doesn’t seem like “legal advice” as such - the question is more “Do I need legal advice to finish this job?” Legal advice would be more akin to “How do I do X?”

No harm done, of course, and I think it’s a close question - but I do think it’s desirable to let posters ask if they have a problem that needs a lawyer, even though they can’t (and shouldn’t!) be asking for resolutions to their legal problems.

But isn’t the question about whether or not a particular fact pattern needs legal advice … legal advice?

Stare into the abyss!

That’s the way I look at it too. Being told you don’t need a lawyer could turn out to be disastrous for your case and paradoxically that advice should only come from your lawyer. (I guess geese are as likely to vote for Christmas as a lawyer to say you don’t need him but there go.)

I think there’s a difference between asking whether a particular problem merits legal advice, and what the particular legal advice should be. I view the closed thread as being in the first category – basically, the OP said “here’s what’s left to do – do I need to get a lawyer or can I handle this myself?” In other words, the OP recognizes that he has a legal problem and is just analyzing whether to get another lawyer or whether to proceed in pro per. (The hidden legal question is whether an executor of an estate can proceed in pro per, but I’d view that as more informational than legal in nature.)

The question of whether you need legal advice about whether you need legal advice is a bit silly. Lawyers have a duty to the public to answer general questions, particularly where it educates the public about their legal rights generally (I’m not talking about providing advice about specific problems, but just educating in general). That thread was general in nature, despite the factual recitation, and I think it would have been fine to leave go.

How can anyone determine whether or not someone else needs another lawyer, or any lawyer at all, if the specifics of the case and the local laws are not known?

Campion’s distinction is good for many situations.

My neighbor’s dog shat on my driveway! Do I need a lawyer?

**I was pulled over with fifteen heads in my trunk (none of which happened to belong to Alfredo Garcia). Do I need a lawyer? (need help fast!) **

But I think the question is largely one of repercussions and outcomes (it’s worth it/no lawyer is going to take your poodle-pissing case). It’s easy to go beyond that with a trifling of complexity.

I don’t see how, or every moderator that closes a legal thread would be guilty of giving legal advice, since they always say to consult a lawyer.

As for the thread, I’d hoped it could’ve stayed open, but I doubted it. The SDMB strays on the side of caution with these things.

I think I want soup for dinner. Should I talk to a lawyer?

The dry cleaner lost my favorite shirt, but they gave me $50 to replace it. Should I talk to a lawyer?

I got summoned for jury service, but it’s on the same day as my big presentation at work. Should I talk to a lawyer?

I got a subpoena to go testify about a car crash I saw. Should I talk to a lawyer?

My uncle died, and I’m the executor. Should I talk to a lawyer?

My uncle died, I’m the executor, I had a lawyer but he stopped communicating, and I need to file the last paper to close out the estate. Should I talk to a lawyer?

(Incidentally, my responses would be No, No, No, Maybe but probably not, Yes unless you know what you’re doing or have a lot of extra time, and Maybe.)

Edit: Damn you, Rhythmdvl!

I reported the thread as seeking legal advice. I reasoned that the OP described in some detail a particular factual scenario with significant legal ramifications, and seeks advice on whether he can or should 1) fire his current lawyer; or 2) hire a different lawyer; or 3) attempt to handle it himself. This was not a general hypothetical scenario…it is tied to a specific case currently in Court.

I think also that the questions really depends on where the estate is. Where I am in Virginia, a lot of people can navigate probate without an attorney or maybe just by consulting the attorney on one or two things. I understand that Florida is different in that you actively need an attorney to guide you through the whole process.

The danger here is that someone can give advice based on their experience in their state which has a completely different procedure from where the OP is.

This sounds similar to Pearson v. Chung which is one of the most bizarre cases I have ever followed.

On the other hand, I think thisthread (HELP! DCFS was called on me) was closed prematurely.

Look how the OP ended:

IMHO, this seems to be a plea for empathy and comfort – especially the kind of comfort that comes from anecdotes of others’ past experiences. Though clearly not predictive of how Auntbeast’s situation will unfold, casting any light on the unknown can be greatly comforting.

Czarcasm took it as a request for legal advice, and closed the thread with the note to that effect:

Germane to this thread, I daresay that go see a lawyer now! is not legal advice per se and would be par for the course of several replies.

I dissent. This is also a real world situation with possible legal ramifications. I think one of the first bits of advice a lawyer would give her is “Don’t post about what happened on the internet.” Anything she says in non-privileged communications can potentially be used against her.

Yes, or a piece of cardboard will suffice as well.

“My uncle died and I’m the executioner. Should I talk to a lawyer?”

(My response would be Yes.)

I concur (heh) that plenty of legal advice can be given. And while “Anything she says in non-privileged communications can potentially be used against her” may technically be legal advice, I don’t think that rises to a Board violation let alone a Bar violation. Warning her not to answer questions until it’s over (hopefully soon) or her lawyer says it’s okay would have been a small comment in the thread.

My post here was that she didn’t seem to be *seeking *advice in the first place. It was the equivalent of saying “holy cow, I’m being audited! Has anyone here been audited? Please tell me what to expect!” Wasn’t there an “Ask the guy who’d been audited” thread not to long ago? I didn’t follow it to the end – were there problems?

(I should also admit to bias and possible projection here. We just had a little Dude four months ago (yay us!). When we were in hospital, one of the nurses casually asked us about bathing him. I said that I’d heard boys were top-rack dishwasher safe and whether or not she could recommend a good detergent. She got all spooky-like and warned me to never joke around with CPS like that, because they have no sense of humor and will ruin our lives for an errant comment. She made it sound worse than making bomb jokes at an airport security check-in. We’ve been fine so far (we just went with Electrosol), but have been curious about the process ever since.)

I felt the thread was closed inappropriately, but was too distraught at the time to argue. I was, as was mentioned upthread, seeking other peoples experience. Having had zero interaction with DCFS before, I really had no idea what to expect.

What do they do when they enter your home? What was your experience like? Have you ever dealt with them and what advice would you give me?

I had no plans to discuss pertinent details, just wanted to know what would happen. Now, I know. They came in, looked around, asked some questions, suggested a follow up the next day and then stood me up due to snow. I’m still sitting here wondering how this will unfold and I’ve been forbidden from I guess even mentioning it here.

But hey, this is the place for pan fried semen.

BTW, thanks for the folks that private messaged me. I deeply appreciate it.

bolding mine

Unfortunately, the SDMB is home to a lot of cruel and judgmental individuals as well as those with a natural tendency to compassion. One factor in the closing, (the thread was reviewed by several of the staff), was the consideration of what sort of nasty comments similar past threads have elicited, along the lines of all the problems being self-inflicted, (even when they are not). Such harsh posts do the OP no good, as well as generally leading to a lot more angry posts that obscure the issue.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but posting that a “neighbor” just found herself in this sort of situation, and asking what information will help them get through it? would tend to deflect some of the personal criticism and, even when, (not if), it was posted, it would not be directed at the OP by name.
The “legal advice” issue was only one factor in closing that thread.

A General Question about “what happens when CPS shows up at one’s door?” might yet bring some good information, (although there is still a good chance that someone with too much time and too many axes to grind will decide to answer that thread as though they had an obligation to “punish” you for perceived or imagined transgressions).

Sure, the staff can slap down jerks who feel the need to attack a poster, but the attack does not fail to have happened just because the staff steps in after the fact.

So imaginary attacks that are in this psychic vision you have must be stopped before they happen. How far will this go anyway? Will a PC question get closed for fear a pro MAC person may comment next? If a question is asked, why not just let people answer and moderate that, otherwise what are you going to base anything on? Psychic visions again, right? So be a jerk to stop a jerk that may not ever be there, what a policy that is, indeed…

No. You will discover, some day, (maybe), that humans are capable of examining information from current and past events and extrapolating future events. It does not require psychic powers, just intelligence applied to information.


Calling other posters–even moderators–“jerks” outside the BBQ Pit is a violation of board rules. If you continue in this behavior, you will get yourself banned.
[ Moderating ]

I apologise for this hijack, but it’s really not worth starting a new thread. This is really bugging me - what’s this from? It’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t get it out.