Policy on legal research assistance to patrons

Last updated: 12/4/13

There are limitations on the services the Law Library staff is able to provide to persons not currently affiliated with the College of Law.  These limitations are based both on College of Law Library internal policies and state regulations.

Provision of resources and services to current College of Law students, faculty (including emeritus faculty and Faculty Associates) and staff is the law library’s highest priority. Services to other patrons are provided to the extent that staff, time and other resources permit.   In situations where time or staffing constraints exist, the library staff will provide assistance to patrons in this order:

  1. current College of Law students, faculty, emeritus faculty, faculty associates, and staff
  2. current NIU students, faculty and staff*; College of Law alumni and law library Authorized Borrowers; and members of the DeKalb County Bar Association
  3. all other patrons not covered by the above

* Active NIU students and faculty who are not currently affiliated with the College of Law and who need to use legal resources to complete coursework or research for academic (not personal) purposes should contact a reference librarian to determine the scope and nature of assistance the law library staff can provide in these situations.

For all library patrons who are not current College of Law students, faculty, emeritus faculty, faculty associates, or staff, the following general provisions apply:

The law library staff will:

  • Assist patrons in locating print or online resources
  • Instruct patrons as to how to use these resources

The law library staff will not:

  • Do legal research on behalf of patrons;
  • advise any patron as to what the text of a law, regulation or legal opinion means, or what the law is on any issue;
  • advise any patron on legal procedures, court rules, or jurisdictions;
  • recommend the use of any particular legal form for any particular purpose, or assist in filling out legal forms;
  • review any document drafted by a patron or by any other person;
  • read textual material (including, but not limited to, definitions, laws, cases, or rules) over the phone;
  • provide advice or instruction concerning the creation and/or formatting of legal citations;
  • recommend any particular attorney or law firm;
  • or perform any other action that could be construed as providing legal advice.

Current NIU students in need of legal advice are encouraged to contact Students’ Legal Assistance (http://www.niu.edu/legal/index.shtml).

Members of the general public in need of legal advice are encouraged to use the information available through the DeKalb County Legal Self-Help Center (http://dekalb.illinoislegalaid.org/) or to seek the advice of a practicing attorney.