Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ABA legal research survey

The 2006 ABA Legal Technology Resource Center Survey is just out, with some fascinating statistics.
With over 2500 lawyers responding to this year's survey, representing a broad spectrum of practice styles (solo, small, large, mega) and areas (litigation; estates, wills & trusts; real estate; corporate; commercial; and contracts); with more than half of the respondents having been in practice for 20 or more years, an astounding 93% of respondents report that they do their legal research online.
Forty-two percent tend to start their research projects using "fee-based resources" (I assume this refers to Westlaw, LEXIS), 25% use a "legal-specific search engine" (probably Findlaw or something like it), and 24% use a general search engine (the Googlers!).
Eighty-seven percent --the highest percentage ever recorded in an ABA technology survey--report using free online sources in their research.
Despite that number, 83% report that they also use fee-based resources to conduct their research (and not just for case law or online Shepardizing; use of these databases for treatises and secondary materials has increased from 30% two years ago to 41% in this year's survey).
Of those who use the fee-based resources, over half (53%) report that they use Westlaw; 37% use LEXIS.
How many respondents reported that they regularly use print resources? While the 2003 survey indicated that number at 75%, in the 2006 survey, that number has dropped to 58%.
ABA members can download free PDFs of this report and other technology trend reports at the following link: http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/survstat.html
- Coleen M. Barger
Associate Professor of Law
UALR Bowen School of Law


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