So, I have a strange inquiry and have not been able to find any case law on point in my jurisdiction (Kansas), hoping somebody might have some thoughts.
Model Rule 5.5 covers practicing law without a license. I'm pretty sure that most law students get the whole "you'll have friends/family asking you questions that at least border on seeking legal advice. You can't give it!" lecture the first week of school. It's pretty straight forward really, but I feel like I'm in a grey area (and Professional Responsibility right now, too!). The question is this:
I have a couple of non-law friends that are working in the industry I came out of before law school (film and television production), and we talk frequently and comings and goings. Occasionally, we get to talking about the business side of the industry. I've already broached the topic of "I can't give you advice on that question except to say you need to consult an attorney." But my question goes a little deeper - what if we are talking and questions come up about things that are (1) common knowledge in the industry and (2) generally available information about how and why things are set up the way they are. Hypothetically, could I say "I read a good book called The Hollywood Economist, and the guy that wrote it explains why films are set up as LLPs or LLCs. You should do that with your short film;" or "you need to get a contract drafted for that" without committing an ethics violation? It's a grey area where I err on the side of "I can't tell you, consult an attorney." But can I talk to them about information I have read about in non-legal contexts from non-legal sources?
At what point does prior non-legal experience in this field get into the realm of legal advice? I feel like I'm in a vulnerable spot because they know I'm a law student, but they also know that I read a lot and am interested in the business side. And being in Business Associations right now, I feel like a lot of the information crosses over from what I've already read prior to enrollment. I might have information about what they should do gleaned from non-legal sources, but that certainly could be painted on the border of being legal advice. As I said, whenever we talk about the business side, I just kind of shut down out of fear of violating an ethics rule. But I still want to be able to talk to my friends about it. Is there any way I can have a meaningful discussion beyond just "here's a book/article you need to read?" Would telling them that most films are created as LLPs in order to insulate the producers from personal liability violate an ethics rule? I don't know where the line is. Thoughts?