Noel on The Unbundling of Legal Services and its Implications for Law Librarianship

Kara Ann Noel, JD, MLIS, of the University of Washington, has posted The Unbundling of Legal Services and its Implications for Law Librarianship.

Here is the abstract:

This paper addresses the role of law libraries with respect to online sites that give free or low-cost legal advice. In this paper, I will argue that the gap in access to legal services for the lower and middle class needs addressing, and that the public law librarian’s role in facilitating access to justice can be improved by helping pro se patrons access the growing number of free or nominal cost online legal advice resources. The rise in online legal advice sites comes with concerns from the legal profession regarding the possible ethical duties and responsibilities of giving legal advice in a new medium, and the role of the law librarian in referring people to these services is constrained by the values of law librarian’s professional ethics. These concerns are valid and warrant serious consideration, yet they are only beginning to be addressed by the profession. I will argue that as the ethical concerns stemming from the proliferation of online legal advice sites are addressed, regulated, and managed by the legal profession, public law librarians should not ignore their presence but embrace their potential role in facilitating access to the information available to patrons in a new technological medium.

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