More legal service resources
I am responding to a story in the Oct. 5 Daily Targum issue, titled “Alumni leave law school, launch legal website,” about two University students who left law school to start a website to help people learn about their legal rights. One stated their reason for doing so was the experience of working in a legal clinic where they were giving the same information daily to different clients. They said that convinced them of the value of a legal information website, particularly as “nobody was doing anything about it ... and there were no legal websites open to the public.”
On the contrary, Legal Services of New Jersey has for many years maintained a website to provide legal information on a wide range of topics in civil, though not criminal, law. The website is publicly accessible at www.lsnjlaw.org, and is organized by topic area, and within each area, specific issues. The website is regularly updated by Legal Services attorneys who practice in these substantive areas. Information on the website is provided in English and Spanish. Last year, this website had 1.6 million visits.
Anyone who visits legal websites for information should be aware that legal information is different from legal advice. An attorney provides legal advice to a client, based on the client’s specific factual situation and the applicability of relevant law to that situation. While websites can provide legal information that may help an individual in dealing with his or her problem, legal advice is often needed and that requires the assistance of an attorney.
The desire to provide free, accurate and reliable legal information to the public is a worthy endeavor, which should be encouraged. That is why Legal Services of New Jersey continues to provide this service to the public through its website.
Harold Rubenstein is a part-time lecturer in the Department of Political Science. He is also the vice president and assistant general counsel of Legal Services of New Jersey.