The Priestly Law Library at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC recently received funding from the BC Law Foundation to further develop a legal research website and a legal research software tool (a downloadable program that runs locally on Windows). The project is at a point where we are interested in receiving comments from the readers of Slaw.
Approximately 3 years ago one of the Law Foundations major funding initiatives supported a project called “Online Learning for Lawyers and Law Students”. The CLE Society of BC, the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, the Law Society of BC (including the Professional Legal Training Course) and the University of British Columbia faculties of law were partners in that project.
One resource developed by the partners was a Legal Research Performance Support Centre (“the website”) that describes a step by step approach to conducting legal research. The project also developed the Legal Research Record (“the tool”), which is a software program that supports researchers and educators in learning the research process by facilitating detailed and thorough tracking of research results.
The current project is designed to take the Legal Research Performance Support Centre to the next level and more fully integrate it into the training delivered at the law school and through the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC. As the project develops other organizations will be invited to incorporate the resources into their websites, e.g. BCCLS, UBC, CanLII, LSBC.
Our Request for your Thoughts
Please take a few minutes to have a look at the two products, and let us know what you think by posting comments to Slaw, or by emailing us c.o. Michael Lines at mlines_at_uvic.ca. Also email Michael if you have any technical difficulties. Here are some specific questions we’ d like Slawers to consider, though of course any and all comments are welcome:
1. We are considering targeting first year LRW students, as well as at articling students who feel the need for a refresher on the basics. Is that a reasonable limitation, or should we be considering a broader audience? Is there a substantial need for this kind of instruction beyond these groups?
2. We are considering a closer integration of the Legal Research Performance Support website, and the Legal Research Record (the application). It has been suggested that, given our plans to focus on law and articling students, and on tighter integration with the LRP website, converting the Legal Research Record into a web application would make sense. Are we missing or excluding anything important with this plan?
3. The content is thin and a bit abstract. In addition to providing more detailed content, a thought is to bring the lessons home by focusing the Research Record on a small group of practical research tasks. For example, we might ask the students to “find the leading cases and legislation relevant to the freedom of assembly in Alberta” and build evaluation criteria in to the Legal Research Record, so that students would be alerted if they fail to cite an important document. Does this strike you as a good direction? How else could the content be improved?
4. A number of issues are not addressed in the current content, such as the relative merits of paper and electronic sources, the distinction between primary and secondary materials, the related issue of the connections between legal processes and legal documents, and generally the fact that there are different types of legal information available. Are these issues worth including, and are there other dimensions of legal research that should be included?