Policy for Information Service to the Public
This policy defines the services the library staff can offer to the public without violating ethical guidelines on the unauthorized practice of law outlined by the American Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar. Its purpose is to ensure that patrons receive the optimal level of service.
"It is the unauthorized practice of law for a non-lawyer to provide appropriate research and law library retrieval services for members of the general public who do not provide the non-lawyer with specific cites, but who outline the question involved."
- Virginia State Bar Unauthorized Practice of Law Opinion #127, February 2, 1989
Only an attorney may provide legal advice. However, the library staff will serve the public by facilitating access to materials in the collection.
The library staff will respond to telephone inquiries regarding the library's holdings on a particular subject. Staff may read exact text over the phone, time permitting, only when provided with a precise citation.
The library staff may not do legal research, answer a legal question, or advise any patron as to what the law on a particular issue is, what the text of a law or legal opinion means, or on legal procedure, court rules or jurisdiction.
Although numerous form books and legal research materials are available in the library, the library staff cannot recommend or endorse the use of any particular form for any particular purpose. Consultation with a lawyer is recommended with respect to the use of legal forms and/or form books.
If you wish to consult with an attorney, visit the Community Legal Resources page.