Do I need to hire an attorney before I start my online business where I will be servicing the general population in the workforce?

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Do I need to hire an attorney before I start my online business where I will be servicing the general population in the workforce?

My business will be assisting employees with their day to day issues not giving legal advice or representing myself as an attorney. The main goal of my business will be to allow employees to vent without feeling threatened of the idea they may lose their job. I need to know how to protect myself from lawsuits? Will a disclaimer be protection enough?

Thanks

Asked on August 9, 2017 under Business Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Definitely consult with an attorney before doing this: there are several possible or potential grounds for liability, so you need to understand the risks and make sure you mitigate them--a disclaimer by itself may not be enough:
1) If you do offer any advice that crosses the line, even inadvertantly, into legal advice, that is practicing law without a license.
2) If you offer advice and someone puts it into effect and loses their job, they may try to sue you for your negligence in having represented yourself, even if only implicitly, as someone qualified to give such advice and then being negligent in the advice you gave.
3) If you reiterate or repeat anything someone posts or tells you and that thing is untrue, it could be defamation.
4) If an employer reveals confidential information or trade secrets to you or on your site, the employer may try to sue to block any release of the information or for compensation.
The above not turn out to be insurmountable problems, depending on exactly what you do--but they potential risks that need to be considered (and there may be other risks that an in-depth consultation will reveal); that's why you need to consult with an attorney to really get a handle on the risks and how to avoid them.


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