I believe that the oldest use of media other than print to teach legal research was a videotape with voice-over by Stephen Borins back in the academic year, 1970-1971 in which he ran through a legal research problem which touched on Priestman v. Colangelo and the liability of police officers. It stressed the reliability of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest and touched briefly on Butterworths Ontario Digest and the Canadian Abridgement.
The tape required a technician from York’s AV division to run it, and was very much talking head with some close-ups of book pages. It might be in a dusty corner of the Law Library up at York – it was never generally released – Harvard came along fifteen years later.
Why mention this dubious piece of legal education trivia? Soon Canada Law Book will release Fish on Legal Research, a DVD by
The blurb describes it thus.
Divided into three parts, this convenient training DVD will help you teach the fundamentals of effective research.
Commentary – 18 minutes
The role of commentary in legal research and helpful guidance on where to find it. This DVD explains how to:
* analyze legal subjects in depth
* formulate legal issues
* find useful commentary
* use commentary to find relevant case law and legislation
Case Law – 25 minutes
How and where to find appropriate and relevant case law. Divided into two segments, this section helps researchers understand:
* why case law is important and the principles to identify significant cases
* the process of finding case law on a specific issue
Legislation 25 minutes
Helpful hints on where to find relevant legislation and what to do with it once you have it. It deals with:
* the legislative process
* techniques for finding legislation
* statutory interpretation
If we can get hold of a review copy, we’ll do a more in depth critique. But in a time of American Youtube legal research videos [and an Australian cartoons] one wonders why a DVD format was chosen, unless CLB thought this was the best way to monetize its investment. Updating will be a challenge.
Fish on Legal Research may be wonderful – I hope so – but it’s late in the game of using multimedia to teach students about legal research.