AALL Session: Preparing Law Students for Law Firm Research Needs

July 15, 2014

AALL14This session brought together academic law librarians and law firm librarians in order to find common ground and improve the training that students received both prior to graduation and after they entered the legal workforce.

Law school librarians are eager to teach their students the most relevant research strategies and technical skills. Yet often law students graduate without ever having seen any eDiscovery, practice management, or Knowledge Management tools.  It might not be feasible or advisable for students to spend their time mastering all of these tools, but the consensus was that students should be exposed increasingly to these technologies.

Legal research is often combined with legal writing into a legal skills course.  Those law students who have taken an advanced legal research class are easily identified by firm librarians when they are hired.  In general, new associates spend almost half of their time conducting legal research; it should be a newly hired attorney’s most important skill.  At the very least the new attorney should be familiar with the various treatises that act as the “bibles” in the associated practice areas.  All too often, however, they do not.

Some law school librarians realized that few law students have actually had the experience of beginning their research with a case file rather than a professor’s hypothetical. To help them efficiently pull out the relevant facts and issues and issues to effectively start their legal research, they began bringing example case files into the classroom to act as a starting point for legal research.

While the session identified many areas that need improvement, it was a great opportunity for law firm and academic librarians to talk and begin to better align their priorities.  I have often heard firm librarians mention how they would love to have a firm librarian provide a guest lecture, answered quickly by firm librarian eagerly taking them up on the offer.

Panelists: Lucy Curci-Gonzales, Steven Lastres, Meg Butler, Jane Larrington, Anna Russell (moderator)