Introducing Roger


stick figure wearing a light green t-shirt with a Silcrow Human logo on it and text reading "inter Roger tories"

Dear Roger,

Why isn’t this an advice column? Who are you? What can you help me with? WHAT IS THE ANSWER?


A desperate reader


Dear desperate reader,

Let’s start by talking about what advice is. You share a situation, and I tell you what you should do in response. That’s advice. Once that situation touches on the law, though, it becomes legal advice, and legal advice may only be given by a lawyer. Giving legal advice when you aren’t a lawyer can get you into trouble with The Lawyers. Coming close to giving legal advice when you aren’t a lawyer can also get you into trouble with The Lawyers. Therefore, this is not an advice column

Who am I? I am a law librarian. This means that I have a commitment to helping people find legal information. I also have a commitment to keep that help confidential. (Law librarians have a set of ethical principals which you can find on the website of the American Association of Law Libraries.) I have training in legal research, and I try to think creatively to make sure that I don’t miss relevant information, but I don’t act as a lawyer when I do this work, and I don’t create an attorney-client relationship with my library patrons.

So what can I help you with? I can help you with any issue that touches on the law. I don’t have a specialization, like lawyers do, because I’m not presenting myself to you as an expert in the law; I’m presenting myself as an expert in finding the law.

One of the data points that gets shared in reports about the justice gap is that a lot of people (note: the reports share actual numbers; I am not suggesting that “a lot” is a defined number) don’t seek legal help because they don’t realize that whatever issue they are having is “legal” in nature. One of my goals with this not-an-advice column is to help readers expand their understanding of what issues are legal. Plus to share resources and tips for legal research.

But if you want The Answer, I can’t give that to you. (I mean, unless you have a very fact based question. Like “what does section 1-201.01 of the District of Columbia Official Code say?” Answer: “This chapter may be cited as the “District of Columbia Home Rule Act”.” Not so exciting! Find it yourself here.)

Now that you know me, do you have an interrogatory for this column? Email us at roger AT justiceaccess DOT org.

Do you have a real question that you want help with? Visit our virtual reference desk during our service hours, stop by an event in the community (view our calendar for the schedule), or email us at library AT justiceaccess DOT org.


*Interrogatory: “a list of written questions one party sends to another as part of the discovery process.” Definition from the Cornell Legal Information Institute.






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