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This is a recurring topic here but I've not seen a meta post that calls out "seek legal advice" as low quality much of the time. I would suggest the community consider this type of advice more carefully and be aggressive in discouraging the vaguest of these answers.

Legal advice that we do engage in falls into three main categories that I have seen:

  1. Advising to seek a lawyer
  2. Application of employment law
  3. Part of (1) but a common topic: admonishing sexual harassment and invoking the possibility of getting sued

Advising to seek a lawyer or that laws somehow are relevant

The first category, honestly, is legal advice. It implies the respondent knows enough about the law to advise seeking a lawyer.

I think this advice tends to be low quality. If the respondent is aware the topic is legally risky, really a more substantive response than "I've heard laws are involved, you should talk to a lawyer" is needed. That is usually not quality advice but just a two-cent opinion one can share.

To offer even this advice, the respondent does need to demonstrate some expertise and some evidence. Or, really, not say anything, because that's giving legal advice.

It is like the trope that WebMD tells you that you have cancer, because it's safer for them to tell you that you should see a doctor. Sure, this is safe for the website, but it's crap advice.

Application of employment law

HR personnel, union leaders, and business owners are often quite knowledgeable here. I have seen some extremely high quality answers involving technical points in local employment law. These answers need to be recognized and promoted. They are what make workplace.SE good.

Admonishing sexual harassment

This is a subset of the first bucket but it is such a broad category it is worth mentioning. I generally think "that is sexual harassment, here is the definition of it and why it applies, and it is wrong behavior and should be addressed such-and-such way" is in the direction of quality advice. "You can be sued" is a substitute for actual knowledge on the topic, and this does happen a bit.

Again, my reason for posting this is that I feel the community should focus on quality of the meta-advice of "you should seek a lawyer." We let people say this whenever, and it frequently contributes little.

  • "Application of employment law HR personnel, union leaders, and business owners are often quite knowledgeable here. I have seen some extremely high quality answers involving technical points in local employment law. These answers need to be recognized and promoted. They are what make workplace.SE good." - This is confusing. Does that mean they should be promoted only when they come from HR personnel, union leaders and business owners? Or, since we don't require members to disclose their profession, this is how everyone can give legal advice? – Joe Strazzere Oct 27 '16 at 11:05
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    I'm guessing this question came about because of this answer of yours - "As a sidenote I think we need to articulate much, much better when "legal advice" is on topic." I think this existing meta post outlines it pretty clearly. – David K Oct 27 '16 at 12:17
  • @DavidK yes, I did write this post after thinking of this issue in that answer. Good eye, I guess. Yes, that answer addresses much of my concerns. – user42272 Oct 27 '16 at 18:40
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    Possible duplicate of What is asking for legal advice? – jimm101 Nov 1 '16 at 17:25
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In most cases, anything that needs significant legal input would be better asked elsewhere -- possibly in the Law area of Stack Exchange, probably of an actual lawyer familiar with both statute and case law in the specific location(s) the querant is concerned about.

Hence most cases really should be closed or relocated as off topic.

Being a good question isn't enough to be a good SE question. It also has to be both focused enough that it is answerable where it was asked, and general enough that the answer is likely to be of value to others.

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