jailhouse lawyer

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jailhouse lawyer

Someone who has not formally studied law but knows enough about it to be able to help others with legal issues (as a prison inmate experienced in dealing with the law might). Despite the name, this phrase can be used in settings other than jail or prison. Talk to Sal before your court appearance—he's a real jailhouse lawyer.
See also: lawyer

jailhouse lawyer

A non-attorney who dispenses legal advice. Properly speaking, a jailhouse lawyer is a prison inmate who, although not a law school graduate (much less a member of the bar), has the requisite skill to assist other prisoners with such legal matters as preparing and filing appeals, writs, and pardon requests. Much of such knowledge came from personal experience. The phrase also applies to any layman, behind bars or not, who offers legal advice, solicited or not.
See also: lawyer
References in periodicals archive ?
(140) Although they may be better than no legal advice for assisting inmates, a jailhouse lawyer may not be that helpful for an inmate asking a federal court to review his conviction.
She became a jailhouse lawyer during her time in prison and created the first Law Project in a California women's prison.
The murders, trial, and subsequent acquittal of a woman who later became a jailhouse lawyer advocating for those unjustly convicted and for the humane treatment of women prisoners makes for a powerful account of corruption, violence and the legal system and is a pick for any true crime collection or law library.
Stewart said she would become a jailhouse lawyer to the extent her disbarment will allow, helping other inmates with their legal fights.
Then he became a jailhouse lawyer dishing out advice to fellow cons on their appeals.