Law Student Research Skills Upon Graduation

The Legal Writing Prof's Blog recently commented on a new law review article by Patrick Meyer of Detroit Mercy: Law Firm Legal Research Requirements and the Legal Academy Beyond Carnegie, 35 Whittier L. Rev. 419 (2014).

Meyer conducted a study to determine the research skills that law firms were looking for in new graduates.

It's interesting that one of the main flaws that law firms noted was the law students' eagerness to jump into the expensive databases for research when a much more cost effective book was available at the firm. As one respondent put it, “PLEASE teach them to be cost-aware . . . and not just dive into expensive research as if it were Google!”

Meyer ultimately proposes requiring an advanced legal research course and “taking steps to infuse research training throughout the curriculum, as the Carnegie Report recommends for lawyering skills.”

Meyer's solutions are absolutely on point. Law schools need to focus on teaching legal research across the law school curriculum so that graduates are effective legal researchers from any angle. Upon graduation law students must know how to start legal research from a case file. They should be able to issue spot and utilize an efficient research strategy that incorporates the ability to research in a wide-variety of resources.

This can hardly be done in just the first-year legal research & writing course. Students need as much practice as possible in the law school setting to truly become advanced legal researchers upon graduation.


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