Choose Your Own Adventure: Alternatives to Legal Advice

Public Libraries, March/April 2018, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 7-10

Posted: 12 Jun 2018

See all articles by Emma Wood

Emma Wood

University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth

Date Written: May 7, 2018

Abstract

Although librarians cannot provide legal advice, there are ways that librarians can support patrons seeking legal information. This article addresses the self-represented litigants' desire to tell their story, a need that goes unsatisfied through the traditional legal system. Patrons seek legal answers from librarians, but often they have a need to verbally unload the heft of their legal scenario. Empathy and active listening by librarians are key in these situations, and so is pursuing a strategy that will lead to the most successful exchange. Success often requires research and referrals in place of legal answers. This article presents a comparison between legal advice interactions in libraries and the Choose Your Own Adventure genre by likening the potential paths and outcomes. The options in these exchanges are static, and bring frustration from both sides of the desk, but these interactions can be concluded favorably without crossing advice lines.

Keywords: Legal Advice, Library Reference, Librarians, Pro Se Patrons, Choose Your Own Adventure

JEL Classification: Z39

Suggested Citation

Wood, Emma, Choose Your Own Adventure: Alternatives to Legal Advice (May 7, 2018). Public Libraries, March/April 2018, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 7-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3174813

Emma Wood (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-1252
United States

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