Reprise: Rules of my road

Not legal advice!

Bunches of reader questions have come in over the past week or 10 days that are beyond what The Legal Genealogist can answer in this blog, mostly because they’re asking for legal advice. Um… that’s not what this blog is all about. Not what this blog can do.

Let me take this opportunity then to repeat these…

The rules of my road.

… It occurs to me that I’ve been remiss in explaining some of the limits on what I’m up to here at The Legal Genealogist. You know, the little things, like making sure I don’t get sued and the furniture isn’t trashed in a brawl.

So here are the rules of my road.

I’m not your lawyer.

I have a law degree. But I’m not your lawyer. I’m not even in active practice as a lawyer any more. I’m not licensed in your state, and I’m not giving legal advice online. We don’t have an attorney-client relationship, so anything I say can be held against you. If you get sued because of something I say here, I won’t represent you. I won’t even testify for you. I will, however, be enormously amused.

Seriously, this blog is general commentary on lots of things, including general commentary on the law. If you’re looking for more than general commentary on the law, you need to consult a lawyer in your home state. If you think this is more than general commentary on the law, you need to consult a mental health professional.

I could be wrong.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m (gasp) human. Which means, at any given time, on any given matter, I could be wrong. If I’m wrong about a fact, I’d like to know it. (I was delighted when Donn Devine told me about early Delaware statutes I hadn’t been aware of.) So tell me when you know more than I do or I’ve just plain goofed. As to everything else, don’t buy what I say uncritically; check the sources I cite and make your own decisions. You may well come to a different conclusion.

No advertising.

It appears that people selling (probably counterfeit) Coach bags and (undoubtedly overpriced) sports jerseys think that the comments area on genealogy blogs should be their personal playgrounds. Uh uh. Not here. And especially not the dolt who thought this lifelong New York Giants fan would be happy with a comment touting Tom Brady jerseys. Well, maybe… depending on whether I could dictate what was on the jersey…

No politics.

It appears that the extreme fringes of the political spectrum have people sitting out there, trolling every single nook and cranny of the Internet, looking for places where they can pop up and spew their conspiracy theories. “Obama wants to close the SSDI because he wants to hide his birth certificate!” “Romney is a Mormon and Mormons do genealogy so genealogy is a Republican plot!”

Bleah. A pox on all your houses. If you haven’t got anything substantive to say about genealogy, it ain’t going live here. And if it sneaks by me at first, it’ll get deleted when I spot it.

No flaming.

Play nice. We’re not all ever going to agree with each other on everything. But disagreeing doesn’t have to be disagreeable. So no personal attacks, ever.

How the World Sees Genealogists (Image used with permission of Jim Owston)

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30 Responses to Reprise: Rules of my road

  1. Linda J. Walker says:

    Can I just “Like” the genealogists graphic?
    ;)

  2. Becky MacAllester says:

    ditto on the graphic. Can that poster be purchased somewhere? I LOVE it!!

  3. Lisa Lisson says:

    Add my name to the list wanting a poster! It’s just fabulous. Can’t wait to show my family this post. I think they will enjoy it, too. And thanks, Judy, for being you.

  4. Mary Ann Thurmond says:

    Ah yes, the “being” an attorney but no longer giving advice conundrum! My husband has been retired for several years and he still frequently gets requests for legal advice. Sometimes in the form of, “I don’t want legal advice, this is just a question.” Except for the tiny little fact that answering it would be giving legal advice. Among his concerns is the fact that he no longer carries malpractice insurance (which can break the bank in California). I even have to fend off people in organizations I’m involved with when someone says, “Tom could probably help us with this.” Uh, NO!

    And put me on the list for a copy of that poster when it comes out!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Yep, which is why I call myself a genealogist with a law degree and not a lawyer who’s a genealogist. Legal discussions, you betcha. Legal advice, nope nope nope. Not going there.

  5. I am not an attorney but I can certainly relate. I have been a registered nurse for 30 years. People ask my for advice all the time but they don’t realize that I can be held accountable for the advice that I give. When you only give me snippets of information I can’t be expected to render sound advice but neither do I want to listen to your entire health history. Better if you go see your GP.

  6. Dave says:

    Yep, same rules for attorneys as for tax professionals like me — general comments may not apply in your particular situation!

    Seriously, thanks for this post. Serves as a good reminder to us all.

    Also, while I’m actively thinking about it, if it’s a conscious change you made, thank you for now including the post title in the subject line of the email distribution. Saving the emails makes much more sense when the entire folder isn’t full of “The Legal Genealogist” as the entire subject!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Exactly, Dave! “Your mileage may vary” in spades.

      And yes the change in the subject lines for email subscriptions was deliberate — I had had several requests and finally had the time to figure out how to do it! Apologies for the delay in finding the answer and getting it done.

  7. Celia Lewis says:

    And this is exactly why I always read your blogs, Judy. Straight-shooter-Judy! Very clear. Hope it stops all the slippery-slope questions to you, too. We’re all learning so much by following along. Cheers.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      And I’m learning so much from the questions, Celia. At least the ones that aren’t asking for legal advice!

  8. Janine Edmée Hakim says:

    Dear Judy….if, usually locatious, I may just say…..Thank You.
    Today’s commentary crustalizes why every day I look forward to your email and Facebook misives.
    Please put me down a “willing to pay for it” fan of that fab poster!!!!

  9. Your post made me laugh so hard, and as everyone else, I love the graphic! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Cool. Got it. Good to spell it out. I had pretty much assumed all this, but still — good to get it in writing. Come to think of it, that’s thinking like a lawyer. : ))

  11. Love this post. :-) And you get much more interesting conspiracy theories than I do. Dare to dream!

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