Legal Research Service Policies

1. Summary of Service Policy

The University of San Francisco (USF) is a private, Jesuit institution, and the USF Law Library is a private research library for the University of San Francisco. This policy defines the research services law librarians at the USF Law Library will provide to its user groups. This policy also defines circumstances in which research services may be limited or refused. Please refer to the Law Library’s Access Policy for more detail about who is permitted to access the Law Library.

Current USF students, faculty, and staff have first priority to use Law Library facilities, resources, and services, including legal research assistance. The USF Law Library provides research service to support to the fullest extent possible the research needs of current USF, students, faculty, and staff.

The Law Library will provide legal research assistance to USF Law alumni, non-alumni attorneys who have been permitted to use the Law Library by the Director of the Law Library (the “Director”), and law students from other ABA-accredited law schools if possible given the constraints of time, budget, and staffing. The Law Library will provide assistance to members of the public with the use of government documents in accordance with the regulations regarding the California and Federal depository programs.

The Law Library staff may refuse access to legal research services to anyone who disrupts others’ use of the Law Library or who engages in behavior that is intimidating or disrespectful to library staff or other users.

2. Guidelines for Service Groups

A. USF Faculty

The Law Library research librarians will assist USF faculty in securing information necessary to support their teaching and scholarship.

B. USF Students

The Law Library research librarians will assist students in securing information that is related to their coursework and education at USF. When appropriate, Law Library research librarians will also design and deliver legal research instruction to USF students. Law Library research librarians may refer questions from USF undergraduate and non-law graduate students to Gleeson Library staff for response whenever the law librarians deem such referrals appropriate.

Subject to the limitations set forth in this policy and time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research librarians will provide legal research assistance to law students working in law firms, courts, government agencies, and other legal services organizations.

Subject to the limitations set forth in this policy and to time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research librarians will suggest resources for USF students who require legal services for personal reasons.

C. USF Staff

The Law Library research librarians will provide research services to University of San Francisco staff to help them fulfill job-related information needs.

D. USF Law Alumni, Other Attorneys, and Law Students Attending Other ABA-Accredited Law Schools

Where possible, given time and staffing constraints, the Law Library research librarians will provide legal research services to USF Law alumni, other attorneys permitted to use the Law Library by the Director, and law students currently attending other ABA-accredited law schools. The Law Library does not furnish legal research services to students enrolled in paralegal programs at other colleges and universities.

E. Members of the Public

The Law Library research librarians will assist members of the public in locating California and Federal government depository documents to the extent required by California and Federal government depository regulations. The Law Library does not furnish research services to the public. Instead, the Law Library staff will refer public patrons who need access to legal materials outside of depository documents or research advice to publicly-funded law libraries.

3. Service Limitations

A. Unauthorized Practice of Law

The Law Library research librarians shall not furnish legal assistance or interpretations of the law if, in the judgment of the research librarian providing service, doing so would result in any violation of law, including, but not limited to, breach of the California Rules of Professional Conduct or the commission of the crime of unauthorized practice of law.

B. Use of Law Library Databases

Law Library research librarians shall use Lexis and Westlaw to assist current USF Law faculty, law students, and law staff in accordance with applicable contracts between the USF Law Library and these vendors. Law Library staff must comply with vendor licensing agreements when furnishing legal research assistance to all user groups.

C. Telephone Research Assistance

The Law Library research librarians may answer simple research questions over the phone for patrons eligible to receive service under this policy. In-person research requests will receive priority. The Law Library staff will not read cases, statutes, regulations, or other documents over the phone.

D. Virtual Research Assistance

The Law Library research librarians may answer research questions received from USF students, faculty, and staff via chat, text, or instant message. The Law Library research librarians may answer simple virtual questions relating to the California and Federal depository government documents available at the USF Law Library.

Updated April 2020