A legal opinion is a written statement by a lawyer, legal expert or a court as to the legality of a condition, or action. In business, a legal opinion represents the opinion giver’s professional understanding of a particular aspect of a transaction or a specific transaction based on legal principles.
Professional understanding of the issue relies on the law at the date of writing. However, the opinions expressed in the letter are not a guarantee of a particular outcome.
. The main purposes of a legal opinion are:
- To inform the addressee of the legal effect of a transaction or matter.
- To identify legal risks that the addressee should consider further and evaluate.
- They also address the question raised by other professional. They, therefore, provide an authoritative basis for reports, opinions, and reports on matters where other professionals lack the professional capability to make judgments.
- Another purpose is to satisfy regulatory requirements.
How to Write a Legal Opinion
Most times when a client requests for a legal opinion, it is often because they are confused about an issue and want professional guidance in the area. So when writing the opinion, you must clarify all the areas of concern. Most of the time, the clients approach you with an unclear question. So, when drafting the questions, make them more sensible. Ensure that you phrase them in a way that communicates the client’s issues but in a more clear and understandable way.
- State the facts:The facts are the answers to the client’s questions. The facts should answer the questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ (Any fact that has not been supplied should not be included in the narration. However, any natural interface or presumption you have made from the facts must be included. Do not forget to mention that the interface or presumptions are your personal opinions.)
- Analysis:For an easy analysis, first set out the provision of the law and the law itself. After that, summarize the provisions of the law. Cite all the extracts. For an ultimate opinion, chose precise extracts on which to base your judgment. The analysis should include conditions necessary for a positive or negative answer. Besides, advise the client on steps to take when they find themselves in similar situations again. At this point, indicate to your client where they stand in regards to the law applicable. To simplify the analysis process, number all previous paragraphs. This will relieve you of the burden of repeating previously written information.
- Answer the query: To answer the query, you will rely on the fact and analysis sections. The answers should be short and concise to the point. The client must be able to appreciate your position regarding the issues. As much as possible give suggestion based on your analysis of all surrounding circumstances.
- Usual disclaimers:Disclaimers can save you from being reported for malpractice if your opinion is wrong. Under the disclaimer, write that the opinions provided are based on the law as per the time of drafting the opinion. Moreover, indicate that the opinion is also based on the documents and facts provided. List all the documents that the clients provided for the sake of drafting the legal opinion.