Legal Reference Policy
Staff members answer reference requests for legal information just as they answer requests for information in other subject areas. But because these staff members are not attorneys, they will not offer legal advice or any interpretation of the law or legal terms. Interpretation is defined as the explanation of what is not immediately plain, explicit, or unmistakable. Although staff members will be as helpful as possible in locating and providing requested legal materials and information, patrons are responsible for assessing the information themselves and for choosing the information that seems appropriate to their situation.
Specifically, staff members will provide the following legal reference services.
- Staff members will read to patrons a definition found in Black's Law Dictionary or equivalent source. No interpretation of the definition will be made.
- Staff members will direct patrons to special subject resources whether in print or in electronic format. Examples include Ohio Domestic Relations Law and the Summit County Probate Court website
- Staff members will assist patrons in using legal resources when:
- the section of code is known (e.g. ORC 3375.121);
- the title or number of law is known (e.g. Ohio HB 235);
- the popular name is known (e.g. USA Patriot Act);
- the subject is broad enough to appear in an index (e.g. railroads).
This assistance will include an explanation that different terminology could lead to other sections of the code or law.
- Staff members will instruct the patron in the organization, format, and limitations of legal materials. This includes explaining:
- the differences between statutory law, case law, and rules/regulations;
- the meaning of citations (e.g.50 CFR 14.94, Title 50, part 14.94 of the Code of Federal Regulations);
- that indexed entries refer to code sections (e.g. 3375.121 refers to Title 33);
- that recent changes in the law may appear in an online version of the code, where available or in the current service portion, if in print;
- that if the patron wants to pursue further research options, they may visit the University of Akron Law Library or the Akron Law Library.
Approved by the Board of Trustees - December 13, 2018