About Law Library Guest Support
Reference Services personnel can answer questions about how to do legal research and help guests locate appropriate research resources. They cannot perform research for guests, answer questions about the law, or provide legal advice.
Examples of questions librarians CAN answer
- "How do I find this case, and are there others similar to it?"
- "Where can I find the New Mexico statutes on the Internet?"
- "Where would I begin researching about zoning?"
- "Where do I find the forms for my divorce?"
- "How do I use this book?"
- "What does this legal abbreviation mean?"
Examples of questions librarians CANNOT answer
- "What is the statute of limitations for an automobile accident?"
- "What does this case mean?"
- "Which court do I go to if I want to sue my boss?"
- "Which form do I use, and how do I fill it out?"
Why do these restrictions exist?
- Researching the law, determining how the law applies to a particular situation, advising patrons, and helping patrons decide what actions they should take are examples of practicing law. Librarians are not licensed to practice law.
- Legal research is complicated. “Simple” questions can have different answers depending on the facts. When patrons perform their own research, they can choose which cross-references to follow and determine which factors may affect the outcome in their situation.
- The relationship between attorneys and clients is protected by attorney-client privilege, disciplinary rules, and malpractice standards. The attorney and client have the opportunity to meet multiple times to ensure that the attorney has all the information needed to provide complete advice and services. Librarians do not have the same relationship with their patrons. This is an important distinction, because inaccurate information or legal advice can strip people of their legal rights.
- Legal research is time-intensive. The Law Library does not have sufficient staff to accept research requests.