Remember, when you were a child, you assumed that anything written in a book was true.
And then, as you got older, you realized that there were books in print that said utterly opposite things. Both couldn’t be true, yet there they were, in print.
And then came the internet, and anyone with a computer could became an author.
I know, because 14 years ago I sat down to write about bankruptcy for the internet public. Four pages became 160, and then I started writing here too. Bankruptcy law is as complex as the people who need bankruptcy, and then the law changed and it became even more so. There’s lots to tell you about.
But if you are looking for bankruptcy information on the internet, the assumption that authors are necessarily authorities is dangerous.
Just because it’s in print doesn’t make it so
There are no words that strike more terror into my heart than when a client says “I’ve been researching bankruptcy on the internet.” Invariable, what follows that statement is wrong.
I’ve spend a fair amount of time lately playing the truth squad with misinformation I’ve found on the internet.
- when bankruptcy lawyers get the basics wrong
- when supposed teachers of lawyers get it wrong
- when those peddling alternative remedies get it wrong
Be a savvy consumer of bankruptcy information
The rules for evaluating information about the law are the same as testing the credibility of any other kind of material.
- Consider the source: is there an “about us” page with some credentials? How long has the author been a bankruptcy lawyer? How much of her time is spent in this field?
- Identify the author’s self interest: bankruptcy lawyers think bankruptcy is a fine remedy for debt. Those selling debt management or some other solution want to scare you away from bankruptcy. Some new bankruptcy lawyers want to get clients regardless of their skill sets.
- Beware of sweeping statements: we lawyers joke among ourselves that often the answer to a legal question is, “it depends”. Lots in this field depends on the facts of your situation.
- Consult multiple sites: test what you learn against several sources. If the information is accurate, you will find it replicated on many sites.
Approach internet research as arming you with questions to test, rather than conclusions to act on, when you meet with an experienced lawyer.
Image courtesy of Lorena
Cathy Moran, Esq.
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Last modified: May 9, 2012