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Legal Research Service Policies

1. Purpose

This policy defines the research services law librarians at the University of San Francisco Law Library will provide to the user groups of the Law Library. It provides guidelines for levels of service to ensure that members of the University of San Francisco community receive appropriate legal research service.

This policy also defines circumstances in which research service may be limited.

2. Summary of Service Policy

The University of San Francisco Law Library provides reference service to support to the fullest extent possible the reference and research needs of the faculty, law student, graduate, undergraduate, and staff groups of the University of San Francisco. The Law Library will provide reference service for the legal research questions of University of San Francisco Law School alumni, other attorneys, and law students from other ABA-accredited law schools whenever possible given the constraints of time, budget and staffing. The Law Library will provide assistance with the use of government documents for the public, as required by the California and Federal depository programs.

3. Guidelines for Service Groups

3.1 University of San Francisco Faculty

The Law Library research staff will assist the faculty in securing all information necessary to support their teaching, research, and writing.

Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 4 and to time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research staff will assist faculty in securing information for their private legal practice.

3.2 University of San Francisco Students

The Law Library research staff will assist students in securing all information that is related to their classes or otherwise in furtherance of their education. Where possible, the Law Library research staff will also provide point-of-need instruction in legal research strategies, techniques, and materials to students.

Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 4 and to time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research staff will provide reference service to law students employed by law firms, courts, government agencies or other legal service providers.

Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 4 and to time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research staff will also assist University of San Francisco students in securing legal information needed for personal reasons.

3.3 University of San Francisco Staff

The Law Library research staff will provide information service to University of San Francisco staff to meet all job-related information needs.

Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 4 and to time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research staff will also assist University of San Francisco staff in securing legal information needed for personal reasons.

3.4 University of San Francisco School of Law Alumni, other Attorneys, Students from other ABA-accredited Law Schools

Where possible, given time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research staff will provide legal reference service to University of San Francisco School of Law alumni, other attorneys, and students from other ABA-accredited law schools.

3.5 Public Patrons

The Law Library research staff will assist members of the public in using California and Federal government depository documents.

The Law Library research staff will not provide other information or reference services to the public. Instead, the Law Library research staff will refer public patrons to publicly-funded law libraries.

4. Service Limitations

4.1 Unauthorized Practice of Law

Under no circumstances with the Law Library research staff provide legal assistance or interpretations of the law where doing so would result in any violation of law, including breach of the California Rules of Professional Conduct or the commission of the crime of unauthorized practice of law.

4.2 Commercial Databases and Computer Assisted Legal Research

Law Library research staff will use Lexis and Westlaw to assist only current University of San Francisco law faculty, law students, and law staff per applicable contracts between the USF Law Library and these vendors. Furthermore, the patron's research must be for educational purposes only, and the results of the Lexis or Westlaw search must not benefit any party not affiliated with the University of San Francisco School of Law.

The Law Library research staff will use other commercial databases only in compliance with the provisions of the applicable contracts between the University of San Francisco and the database vendors.

4.3 Telephone Reference

The Law Library research staff may answer simple reference questions over the phone for Law Library patrons eligible to receive reference service under this policy. Reference requests made in person will receive priority.

The Law Library research staff will not read cases, statutes, regulations, court rules or definitions over the phone.

4.4 Online Reference

The Law Library research staff may answer simple reference questions received via instant message or e-mail for persons currently affiliated with the University of San Francisco-with members of the University of San Francisco law school community having priority.

The Law Library research staff may answer simple e-mail or IM questions relating to the California and Federal depository government documents holdings of the University of San Francisco Law Library.

In all instances, reference requests made in person will receive priority.