SRLN Brief: Law Library Ethics

The following are resources on law library ethics:

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Ethical Principles make a statement about law librarians’ duty to avoid giving legal advice, referred to as the unauthorized practice of law. Although the rules defining the unauthorized practice of law are different in every state, and what constitutes legal advice may not always be clear, there are some general principles that can guide librarians’ interactions with members of the public. Many states have guides for librarians. The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) also provides a toolkit on the unauthorized practice of law.


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According to this article, “no librarian has ever been prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law, but the concept still makes many librarians nervous.” The article reinforces the ongoing need for law librarians to train public librarians about the unauthorized practice of law, and provides examples of ongoing training for public librarians in New Hampshire, Oregon and South Carolina.