Policy Regarding Legal Research Assistance
The legal collection at the Library of the University of Texas at El Paso is provided primarily as an educational component for the faculty and students of the institution. Other faculty and students in the community, as well as community patrons, are welcome to use the collection for their needs. Research/Instruction staff will assist patrons in the use of the collection, but cannot conduct legal research for them.
If you need to find out what the law is, we encourage you to come to the library to find it. We can show you where the law collection is located and how to use the legal indexes. However, you are responsible for your own research. If you find a law or case that is not clear to you, we will not interpret it or explain it to you. We will refer you to dictionaries or other sources that may help you interpret it.
This policy is in place for several reasons:
- The function of librarians is to help people use the resources of the library, not to research and interpret the law. The role of attorneys is advising people on what the law is and how it applies to their particular situation.
- There are no simple legal questions. Each question exists within a unique factual circumstance. Determining those circumstances is absolutely necessary to properly address the underlying question and is very time-consuming. By way of example, your question might be, “What is the statute of limitations for a car accident in State X?” Not only do different states have different statutes of limitations, but which statute of limitations to be used can depend on the facts of the case, such as whether the injured person was a minor, or whether the accident resulted in a fatality.
- Conducting legal research for all patrons who request it will very quickly overwhelm the ability of Library staff to respond to other inquiries. We are pleased to be able to help patrons with what we do, to help you find the resources you need to perform your own research. Legal research is time intensive and the Library is not staffed for it.
- Inaccurate legal information may result in the loss of some legal right. Attorneys conduct probing interviews with their clients in order to uncover all of the relevant facts necessary to provide effective representation. We cannot know all of the details necessary to properly advise you of your legal rights.
- Discussions between an attorney and a client are privileged. Any discussion of the details of your situation with Library staff is not a protected discussion and if we are required to disclose the contents of those discussions, you are not protected against us having to reveal what you disclosed.
Advising people on what the law is and how it applies to their situation is practicing law, which is what lawyers do. Library employees are prohibited from giving legal advice. The Library staff is able to help you use the Library’s collections, but cannot research or interpret the law for you.