UNM Law Library Guide for Public Librarians: Legal Advice

Prohibition on Giving Legal Advice

It is a violation of state law for anyone other than licensed attorneys to practice law.
NMSA 1978, 36-2-28.1 and 36-2-28.2 (1949)

  • Librarians are not licensed to practice law.
  • Determining how the law applies to a particular situation is practicing law.

Practical Explanation for Prohibition

  • Legal research is complicated. "Simple" questions often have different answers depending on the facts of the situation.
  • The relationship between attorneys and clients is protected by attorney-client privilege. Librarians do not have this relationship with patrons.
  • Inaccurate information or advice may strip people of their legal rights.

Questions Law Librarians Cannot Answer

  • What is the statute of limitations for an automobile accident?
  • What does this case mean?
  • What does this word [legal term] mean?
  • Which court do I go to if I want to sue my employer?
  • What form should I use?
  • How do I fill out this form?

How Law Librarians Can Help

Law Librarians provide access to the collection and the library's online resources.  This includes assistance in finding and using federal, state and local legal resources in a variety of formats through the acquisition, organization and maintenance of information resources as well as through reference services.

Reference services include the knowledge and use of legal resources and instruction in the use and choice of legal information resources for determining the best access points for our patron's research needs.