News from the Reference Desk Category: Legal

DIY Research: Legal Information

Online legal information 

magnifying glass showing the word research

Answers to many common legal questions can be found online, but it is important to use a trusted, accurate website. 

Illinois Legal Aid Online – Find answers to many common legal questions and guided, online assistance in filling out some legal forms through this extensive, free resource. Illinois Legal Aid Online is a registered non-profit whose mission is to make the law accessible and understandable for all citizens. 

Findlaw Findlaw includes detailed information about the law and legal issues that are intended to be consumer-facing, or for a public audience that is not formally trained in law.  Findlaw is published by Thomson Reuters, a reputable publisher of legal information.    

The Legal Information Institute – Extensive legal information, much of it in the form of primary materials, is available from Cornell Law School through the Legal Information Institute. The free legal dictionary and encyclopedia are both potentially useful for at-home legal research, but be on the lookout for advertisements.   

In the library 

The library has several in-house resources for legal information. On the shelves, there are legal information books available for checkout on a number of popular subjects, including divorce, powers of attorney, patents and many more. Many are published by a company called NOLO, which is renowned for making legal information approachable for non-legal professionals. (Think of it as the “For Dummies” series for legal topics.) 

Gale LegalForms – Many legal forms are available through Gale Legal Forms, accessible in the library or from home with a Mount Prospect Library Card. 

For deeper legal research, library patrons can access primary and secondary legal sources through WestLaw, available in-house on the public computers. 

Legal assistance 

If you need to speak with an attorney, there are local organizations that provide access to professional legal advice 

CARPLS – Cook County’s largest provider of free legal services, the CARPLS legal aid hotline at 312-738-9200 is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic – This local organization provides legal services in the areas of immigration, housing, and domestic violence. Income restrictions apply for housing and immigration legal services; domestic violence legal services do not have an income requirement. 

Illinois Legal Aid Online – Get connected with available legal support through the “Get Legal Help” form available on Illinois Legal Aid Online. 

With questions about accessing any of these resources, or for help in finding more sources for legal information, please contact the Research Desk to request a reference appointment.     

Helpful websites for renters facing eviction

Eviction Help Illinois is a new program that offers free legal help for Illinois residents facing potential eviction and landlords not represented by a lawyer.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Look-Up Tool: This tool connects people with local programs that may help with rent and utilities.

The Rental Assistance Program – Although the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP) is closed and not currently accepting new applications, there is more funding coming. This site will have information on both DHS and IHDA rent programs.  

For assistance accessing these resources, please contact the Research Desk. 

Illinois Courts launch personalized guide service

Illinois Court HelpIL court help: your guide through the courts is a new, free service from the Illinois Courts that connects people to the information they need to go to court. Call or text (833) 411-1121 to connect with a trained court guide who can provide specific answers to questions about the court process, like how to e-file court documents and how to appear in court by phone or video.   

Illinois Court Help is a go-to source for court information, especially for people who don’t have a lawyer. Guides will provide step-by-step instructions to help make the court process less confusing. Court users will also be able to access plain language forms that can be used in any Illinois court.  

While Illinois Court Help will not provide legal advice, guides will refer people to legal aid and other community services that can help them solve their problem. 

Initial hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, with expanded hours to come over the next few months.   

Visit to find more information.   

Gale LegalForms

Gale LegalForms provides professionally written legal documents used by attorneys and law firms. You’ll find downloadable forms covering real estate, wills, power of attorney, bankruptcy, small business—practically any area of law—alongside helpful tools like a Law Digest and Attorney Directory. Take charge of your legal affairs with Gale LegalForms.

Browse Legal Definitions alphabetically, or search to build a better understanding of terms you may encounter within forms.
• Link to federal and state Tax Forms.
• Use the Attorney Directory to quickly identify attorneys offering services within particular states and practice areas.
• Build your knowledge of key cases, laws, and concepts by browsing or searching the Law Digest.
• Click Legal Q&A question categories to view sample inquiries and attorney responses from across the country.
• Explore LegalLife Articles to find a straightforward explanation of legal matters surrounding common life events.

Copyright Trends: Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Gonzalez

Copyright infringement has been a hot topic since the 18th century for print materials, and exceedingly relevant for digital files since the era of Napster in 1999. In recent years, entities like copyright trolls and other digital watchdogs are always on the lookout to acquire significant monetary gain through litigious means, even if the accused is not the infringer, but unknowingly provides the means to do so. For example, our Library safeguards against infringement liability by requiring patrons not partake in “conduct which violates Federal, State, or local law including copyright and licensing infringement,” according to our internet service policy. Copyright trolls frequently win cases against service providers, but a recent ruling is fighting this trend.

On August 27, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) decided that the owner of a senior living home which provides internet service to occupants will not be held responsible for copyright infringement inflicted by an unnamed guest or occupant. Here is a synopsis by Stanford University Libraries and here is the Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Gonzalez court publication itself. Whether or not the results of this substantial case will make any lasting changes to copyright policy remains to be seen.