December 12, 2007
Who Should Teach CALR to 1Ls?
Who should teach CALR? Vendors, legal writing profs, law librarians.
This question has been debated for almost three decades now. In the early 80s, I banned Lexis reps from offering training at my law firm because their corporate-mandated approach was more designed to generate high search charges than produce efficient research skills. (Not so from Westlaw reps.) Those days are over. This isn't an either/or proposition anymore. Vendor reps, legal writing profs, and law librarians each have something to contribute to teaching CALR to 1Ls (2Ls, 3Ls, law clerks, young associates...) and no group is bias-free, so I am not persuaded by Shawn Nevers' argument in Candy, Points, and Highlighters: Why Librarians, Not Vendors, Should Teach CALR to First-Year Students [SSRN]. [JH]
Here's the LLJ article's abstract:
Computer-assisted legal research (CALR) is an essential legal research tool. Despite that fact, most first-year law students are still being trained to conduct CALR by the representatives of commercial vendors. This article contends that in the legal research environment of 2007, first-year students need the guidance of law librarians to effectively learn CALR. Among other benefits, law librarians can provide first-years with unbiased guidance in evaluating CALR systems, can teach CALR within a comprehensive research approach, and will not perpetuate the idea that CALR is a quick and easy solution to legal research.
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