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What Do People (and Lawyers) Ask Public Law Librarians?


Have you ever wondered about the questions public law librarians are asked? Have you ever thought that answers to lawyer and non-lawyer legal questions are “all online?”

Think again!

The Oregon Special Law Library Association (ORSLA) asked the question. Read the answers (and a few samples below). Public law librarians around the country will recognize these:

• Non-attorney wanted to find out “when a particular law stopped being a law.” He has no further information other than the law involved something to do with corporate security and them not being law enforcement. We helped him find the answer to his question through legislative history research assistance both online and in print.

• Non-attorney wanted to do research on medical malpractice and believed he could not afford an attorney. Showed him how to conduct legal research on medical malpractice and provided lots of information on low and no-cost attorney assistance.

• Non-attorney needed access to Oregon Judicial Information Network for a paper he was writing for class. Logged him on and assisted with using the database.

• Attorney needed a criminal law continuing legal education deskbook chapter on a specific subject. He was in a hurry because they were “in the middle of trial and nobody was in his office.” Copied the information for him in print and emailed it to him so he could access it on his handheld mobile device in court.

• Attorney needed research assistance with foreclosing security interests. Assisted him with materials both in print and online. Emailed some needed forms to him from our database subscription service.

• Attorney looking for an Intoxylizer 5000 Student Manual. Provided him with an electronic copy sent by email and he came in later to check out the DUII Manual which had a copy of it in it in print.

• Attorney needed to look at some Oregon Revised Statutes real quick before we opened (“Pretty please!”) because he needed them for court in five minutes. Welcomed him in and copied the statutes for him because he was frazzled!

• Attorney needed assistance performing a Lexis or Westlaw search because he can’t get what he needs from FastCase. Assisted attorney using Lexis so we could email him the results he needed.

• Non-attorney wanted help with finding and filing paperwork that would give temporary guardianship of her 15 yr old daughter to a friend. Provided legal research assistance, resources, and referrals.

• Attorney wanted to know the proper citation format for an Oregon Appeals Court case. Got it for him both in print and online.

• Attorney researching property owners association law in Oregon and didn’t know where to start. Provided legal research assistance in print and online.

• Attorney (judicial clerk) needed most current edition on damages treatise because court’s version was out of date due to budget cuts. Provided updated materials and allowed them to be checked out.

• Attorney needed to see committee meetings for “1971 legislative stuff” and “couldn’t find it online.” Provided legislative history research assistance in print and microfilm.

• Attorney needed an annotated statute with only 15 minutes before court. Provided copy of annotated statute.

• Non-attorney “sent from courthouse” needing information on “how to garnish someone” (i.e. collect on their small claims judgment). Provided legal research assistance, resources and referrals

[Link to full articles.]

Services provided by Oregon county law libraries.

Services provided by other Oregon law libraries.

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