Law Libraries use and abuse

This isn't in fact the title of this article but my take on the subject matter of the article. The article which has a U.S bias poses some interesting questions about the current use of Law Libraries and the resources held within them by fee-earners (associates).

The most interesting question is whether the increased dependence of online legal research resources may be leading to a "myopic research strategy". The author of the article William P Atkins states, “in relying so heavily on a singular case found electronically, the researcher adopts a view ironically constrained by technology, its boundaries set by what a keyboard and mouse can deliver to us, not by the totality of information out there.”

In lamens terms are fee-earners missing information because they rely too heavily on using online information sources? I wonder if there is a question here for Law Librarians too, should we rely less on online sources then we currently do?

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    # by Jennie - Friday, August 03, 2007

    I have a colleague who's quite keen to try the research challenge. It's interesting that it's actually written by a fee earner, at first I thought a librarian was writing. I've often been faced with blank looks when asking people if they've checked in the standard textbooks on a subject, but do have to admit to sporting that same look sometimes when my boss asks me if I'VE checked a textbook...

    I think fee-earners now look at book research as something that their minions do, and assume that someone else will do it for them! It seems to be a product of university, where citations lists are hosted online, you never have to work out things any more...it's part of an ongoing discussion I have with a uni librarian friend over convenience / time saved by providing citiation lists and not making them learn how to do book research versus time needed for cramming the basics of law into their brains...

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    # by hypatia - Friday, August 03, 2007

    Interesting post. I admit that I do often rely too heavily on online sources - half through laziness, and half because the books are always with the fee-earners anyway!

    The urge to believe that it must be more accurate or up to date because you found it online is very strong. The only hard-copy source I use with any regularity is Halsbury's, because I find it easier to search the hardcopy.

    And I agree with Jennie - I think that often the fee-earners see book research as beneath them, or too time-consuming. They want easily digestible information presented on-screen, but this doesn't necessarily mean that they're getting the best information they could be.