VIRGINIA UPL OPINION 152


Public Law Library Employees' Provision of Information to the Public.

The Committee opined that the following Policy for Information Service to the Public, adopted by a Public Law Library operated by a local bar association, is appropriate and conforms to the requirements of the Unauthorized Practice Rules and to the guidelines earlier adopted in Opinion 127. [Policy reprinted in its entirety.]

No one on the Law Library staff is an attorney. Only an attorney may provide legal advice. However, the library staff will serve the public by facilitating access to the materials in the collection.

The Law Librarian will seek to enhance the collection with materials designed for use by the layperson seeking legal information.

The Law 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 Law 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 Law Library 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.

The committee further opined that solutions to eight hypothetical scenarios posed by the inquirer were appropriate and did not violate any Unauthorized Practice Rules or Considerations. The substance of the hypotheticals indicated that non-lawyer law library staff would not select specific forms for patrons presenting questions, would not answer procedural or jurisdictional questions, and would not in any manner evaluate facts presented by a patron in an effort to determine whether a cause of action had accrued.

Committee Opinion
July 2, 1991

 

Updated: Aug 28, 2006