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Legal Opinion vs. Legal Advice

by | Jan 22, 2016 | TC Drafting, TC Review, TIER, TIER Plus

A legal opinion differs from legal advice. However, even attorneys sometimes use these two phrases interchangeably. Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “legal opinion” as “[a] written document in which an attorney provides his or her understanding of the law as applied to assumed facts.”[^1] This definition notes that attorneys often give legal opinions on matters such as title to real property and corporate transactions, among others.[^2]

In contrast, Black’s defines “advice of counsel,” or “legal advice,” as “[t]he guidance given by lawyers to their clients.”[^3] The term “guidance” is important to this definition. It points to the key difference between a legal opinion and legal advice. A legal opinion is an attorney’s analysis based on past or present facts, while legal advice is an attorney’s counsel and guidance as to what future actions the client should take.

If you need to know the legal effect of past events or signed documents—for example, if you want to understand a signed purchase and sale agreement or determine who owns a parcel of land—you need a “legal opinion.”

If you need guidance on what to do in the future—such as whether to write a demand letter, dissolve a business entity, or file a suit—you need “legal advice.”

Timely Contract® Solutions

  • TC Review answers questions about signed documents, or documents to which you are otherwise committed. In other words, TC Review renders a legal opinion.

  • TC Drafting delivers a custom document memorializing your terms, conditions, and contingencies.

  • TIER® delivers a legal opinion about a parcel’s exceptions documents located at the County Recorder’s Office.

  • TIER Plus® delivers a legal opinion about a parcel’s public record for documents located outside of the County Recorder’s Office.

Avoid common problems of the real estate transaction by using Timely Contract solutions … and to sleep better at night!

[1] Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th Ed., p. 1266 (2014).

[2] Id.

[3] Id. at 65.

This posting is not legal advice. Legal advice is based on specific facts. This information is necessarily general in nature.

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