William and Mary Law School

Library Staff and the Unauthorized Practice of Law

The  library staff will not perform legal research for patrons not affiliated with the law school or offer any information that may be construed as providing legal advice, including the use and drafting of legal forms or documents. Such legal research and advice can constitute the unauthorized practice of law, contravening both ethical and legal rules. Whether a particular question constitutes a request for legal advice is in the discretion of the staff member.

Library staff may provide answers to specific questions over the phone if the patron has a citation and the answers are read verbatim and without interpretation. Library staff may also suggest materials that might help a patron understand the nature of their problem, and may explain how to locate and use materials in our collection. Library patrons needing additional assistance in understanding the nature of their legal problem are advised to consult an attorney or a legal aid or lawyer referral service.