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Monday, May 30, 2011

Asking questions on a lawyer's blog

Recently I had this question from a reader, and I thought I'd answer it here in a post because it applies to many of you:

"I've asked a couple of questions without getting a response. Am I doing something wrong or are the questions too complex for the blog format?"

Nope, you're not doing anything wrong!

But you do make a very good point about the complex questions. Sometimes the questions readers leave me very complex questions. If I were to meet that client in person in my office, I would ask a dozen or more questions before offering any opinion on what to do. I worry that if I give an answer here on my blog that is based on less than the full facts, a reader might act on that answer to his or her detriment.

It's often clear that the readers are trying to give the full facts. That's why their questions are so lengthy. But they don't always know which facts are relevant. I'm reminded of this occasionally when I go to the doctor and he asks me something that seems totally unrelated to my medical issue, but that turns out to be vital information.

Occasionally the question is simple but the answer is complex. Those I will eventually answer. Many are, as we speak, sitting in draft form while I wait for a chance to look up a section number of a statute or the name of a book or a person.

Lack of time is sometimes an issue for me, and I'm not the world's best time manager in any event. In addition to working full time, I write a book a year. I travel a bit with my work and do close to fifty seminars, media interviews and articles a year as well. So, I get behind on things, blog posting included. I love to get reader questions though I am the first to admit that it sometimes takes me a long time to respond. The questions are very valuable to me, as I feel I'm having a conversation with people and hearing what they are truly concerned over and worried about. If I can help anyone with the information and ideas I post, so much the better.

There are a few questions that I'll probably never answer. Those would be the ones where someone is letting off steam about family members involved in an estate. There's nothing wrong with a good venting. I do it myself. But I think some of these people might regret what they've said once they calm down, and if I put the questions out there on the internet, it won't help matters.

I hope this helps. Thanks for being patient.

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