Often as service providers, you are dealing with clients with multiple issues in their personal, home and work lives. Some of those issues may be legal ones, which often require legal advice. When helping clients navigate legal issues, you need to understand your own limits.
In Alberta, only people licensed by the Law Society of Alberta can give legal advice. As a service provider, you can and should help clients access reliable information. But you cannot give advice about how they should deal with their legal issues.
Under Alberta’s Legal Professions Act, only active members of the Law Society of Alberta can practice as lawyers (also known as “barristers or solicitors”). While there is no legislative definition of what it means to practice as a solicitor, Canadian caselaw says that a person who “acts as a solicitor” is one who:
- conducts an action or other legal proceeding on behalf of another
- advises that other person on legal matter
- frames documents intended to have a legal operation or
- generally assists that other person in matters affecting his legal position
Unfortunately, there is no definition of what legal advice is, let alone what legal information is. All we have is legislation governing legal professionals and the practice of law in Alberta, and case law (or judge-made law).The conclusion that we have come to is that legal advice is applying the law to a specific situation. On the other hand, legal information is general information about law and processes.