As a blogger and social media user, who has been plugging away at this amazing job I have for years now, I often wonder how I can best protect my content online or how I can protect myself on the worldwide web. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve resorted to asking Google or a few good friends in the industry for answers on occasion, when I know that I should have asked an attorney. Like many of you, I didn’t think that it was in my budget. Had I known that I could afford it, I would have done it. If you’ve felt the same way from time time to time or you’re in search of an attorney for a problem you’re dealing with, you’re in luck.
This week renowned attorney and TV personality Lisa Bloom was kind enough to join me for an interview to dish on how we can all get affordable legal help online, simple ways we small business owners can have an attorney read our contracts at a budget-friendly price, and how bloggers and social media users can protect themselves and their content online. PS: If you have taken pictures off of blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, etc. without giving proper credit to the owner, I highly encourage you to read this as well.
Candace Rose: What can happen if someone who has a legal problem doesn’t get help?
Lisa Bloom: “Well, what generally happens, Candace when you ignore a problem, a little one turns into a major problem, right? That’s especially true in the law because there are strict deadlines if you’re going to file a case or if somebody files a case against you. Generally if you want to act and protect your legal rights you have to do it quickly, otherwise your right to act might expire altogether.”
Candace Rose: Why are some people intimidated by our legal system?
Lisa Bloom: “I think it’s because it can be confusing and complicated and a lot of legalese and jargon people don’t understand, but the biggest reason is cost. Nobody wants to spend thousands and thousands of dollars just to get an answer to their legal question. You know the super wealthy people they can afford it, not a problem, but for ordinary people who have to live on a budget, they’re very concerned about cost and I think that keeps people from going and talking to lawyers.”
Candace Rose: What are some legal issues where people need good legal help but often don’t receive it?
Lisa Bloom: “Well, here’s what we’ve found, Candace at Avvo.com – the three biggest areas are family law (I’m getting a divorce, I have a child custody fight on my hands, I have an elder abuse issue); immigration (Can I get a green card? Can I be a citizen? What do I have to do to get a work visa?); and then small business owners.
I’m a small business owner, we often have questions – should I sign this contract that’s been presented to me? How do I handle terminating an employee, for example? People want answers to basic questions in these areas but they don’t want to spend a lot of money on it.
What we’ve done at Avvo is come up with a system where people can get free advice, or very low cost advice so that we’re bringing law to ordinary people. You can go on the site, you can type in a legal question and you will get an answer from an attorney in your area (probably two or three of them) within 24 hours answering your question very straightforwardly. That’s free, that’s a great service available. Over eight million questions have been posted and answered, and you might find that your question has already been answered and then you’re done. But I recommend that you take it a step further, and you actually talk to a real live attorney. Here’s a great way to do that – you pick the attorney you want on Avvo.com, you pay $39 flat fee and then you just receive the call from that attorney and just ask whatever you want during those 15 minutes…no hidden fees, no bills that’s it, very straightforward.”
Candace Rose: As a blogger and social media user, what are some steps I can take to ensure I’m protected and my content is too?
Lisa Bloom: That’s a great question, and that’s a good question for an IP lawyer (intellectual property lawyer). I would say first of all you want to be very truthful in all the stuff that you post online because you don’t want to get sued for defamation. You don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy, you don’t want to invade any copyrights such as by taking pictures – a lot of people copy pictures from other sites, post it on their sites. That’s illegal, that’s a copyright violation, so you should only be posting original content – pictures that you take or ideas that you have, words that you post. If you’re careful to do all that, you should be okay.
If you’re criticizing someone online you should make it very clear that’s your opinion. Opinion is protected speech, but statements and facts are not necessarily presented. You don’t want to make any false statements of fact. If you do by accident, correct it immediately, apologize and retract.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Lisa Bloom: “I’d like people to know that if they have a simple document that they want reviewed like a contract they’ve been presented and want to know ‘if this really protects my rights or is the other side trying to sneak something in?’ For $149 flat rate on Avvo Legal Services they can get that contract reviewed.
I encourage everybody if you’re looking for a lawyer, go on Avvo.com. Almost every lawyer in America is rated on the site (I am), everybody else is too. You can find customer reviews, peer reviews, disciplinary records (if any, hopefully not). All the information is there, it’s very user friendly, very accessible and we have a great mobile app, just go to Avvo in your app store and you’ll find it.”
Satellite media tour courtesy of Avvo. Candace Rose Anderson was not compensated by the sponsor for this interview.