Friday, April 3, 2009

Scholarship alert: "Should We Care If the Case Digest Disappears?: A Retrospective Analysis and the Future of Legal Research Instruction"

Several of us have discussed on the legal writing listserv and elsewhere whether the move away from the indexing method of legal research towards the word retrieval method characterized by online search engines deprives students of a key analytical aspect of legal research.  Sure, online research is much more efficient for many tasks but using the index method helps students identify issues they might not otherwise think of as well as providing a serendipitous approach to research that often produces the best results.

This article by Sabrina Sondhi, the Special Collections Librarian at Columbia Law School, found at 27 Legal Ref. Serv. Q. 263-281 (2008) adds to the discussion.  Here's the abstract:

This article begins with a brief history of the West key number digest system. Next, it reviews some of the prominent literature discussing the shift from case digests to full-text searching (including the sole user study on this topic). Then, this article examines how the paradigm shift is reflected in law library collections and current trends in legal research instruction. Finally, the author presents four lessons gleaned from this discussion that may help shape future legal research instruction and proposes a user study to better inform future discussion.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2009/04/scholarship-alert-should-we-care-if-the-case-digest-disappears-a-retrospective-analysis-and-the-futu.html

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