Law Librarians Teaching Research Skills for Hire


It appears that the legal industry is starting to understand how to parse through potential hires to find those with the best legal research skills. The Thomson Reuters Legal Solution Blog recently posted a series of tips for evaluating a potential hire's research skills. As noted, one of the key tasks that an attorney will be expected to complete throughout his or her career is legal research. When hiring or interviewing prospective candidates, a Partner will often want to ensure that the candidate has top notch legal research skills that can be put to use by the firm. 

These skills include:
  • Flexibility - knowing when to use natural language versus boolean searching
  • Creativity - using creativity to distinguish or analogize a case to a results list instead of searching for the "perfect case" that may not exist
  • Familiarity - looking beyond cases and statutes to other sources such as Trial Court Documents
  • Exhaustive - knowing when to stop researching
These skills are important skills that law students must learn from law librarians. There is inevitably a "back and forth" that goes on in legal research. Legal researchers must be able to find meaningful sources AND analyze results to understand what they still need to find. 

Law librarians must bridge the knowledge in action gap to ensure that law students can find familiar resources while maintaining flexibility. Students must also have the analytical skills to creatively find answers and know when to stop researching

If law librarians leave it up to legal writing professors to teach the analysis portion, we are doing the students a disservice by providing the steps to find resources without having them practice the difficult task of analysis and revising searches. The students must struggle through the entire process to truly absorb the skills necessary for effective and efficient legal research. 

Comments

  1. Great post! As a researcher first and now a law student I am definitely looking forward to being a great legal researcher. Practice makes perfect.

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