Reference Services Policy

Reference assistance is intended primarily for current students, faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin - Madison.Our staff can help you locate and use the print and online resources of the UW Law Library. Anyone may contact us, but we can only provide limited assistance to those outside of the campus community.Here are ways to reach us:

In person service at the reference desk includes evening and weekend hours during the fall and spring semesters.Check the UW Law Library website for complete schedule information.

Chat questions are answered by the law librarians staffing the reference desk. Questions asked in person at the desk have priority over chat questions. If the chat dialogue box indicates that a librarian is available but you don't receive an immediate response to your question, please try again in a few minutes. Questions requiring in-depth knowledge on a topic or resource may be referred to an appropriate subject specialist who will contact you as soon as possible.

Telephone reference service is provided as time permits. Generally, this service is limited to questions requiring ready reference sources, such as inquiries on whether or not the library holds certain materials or a quick check of online websites or print material. We will not read any part of a statute, case, definition, etc. over the phone to patrons.

Ask UW Law email questions typically receive a reply within 24 hours during the regular business week, Monday–Friday.

As librarians, we cannot provide legal advice or interpretation of the law because to do so would be considered the unauthorized practice of law, which is illegal. If you need someone who will research and interpret the law for you, consider talking to an attorney. For information on identifying and locating attorneys, please consult our Low Cost Legal Resources in Dane County Guide.The Wisconsin State Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Service, Findlaw, Justia, and Martindale.com are other options.

We encourage you to come into the Law Library where you may access books and databases in order to conduct your own research. If you cannot visit the Law Library, many resources including laws, cases, regulations and articles are now available on free, reliable Internet websites.See our Wisconsin Legal Information Sources Guide as a starting point for locating state legal resources. Many local public libraries also have the current Wisconsin Statutes in print. For more practical tips, the American Association of Law Librarians has published a helpful brochure, How to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide For Non-Lawyers.

Finally, we often are asked if the Law School offers services where people can get help with their legal questions. The University of Wisconsin Law School has numerous clinics through which law students obtain practical experience in delivering legal services. Whether these clinics can assist you will depend on your particular situation or problem, their current caseload, and the time of year (the clinics typically operate only when classes are in session). Most clinics do not take walk-in clients. The Reference Librarians will refer you to the appropriate clinic whenever it is feasible.

Contact a Legal Reference Librarian

Reference Desk Hours

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