Andrea Zielinski, Librarian at Emery Jamieson LLP and Chair of the Edmonton Law Libraries Association let me know about a good read in the latest Canadian Lawyers 4Students issue (starting page 21). The article titled “Key to the Kingdom” quotes well respected academic librarians from law schools across the country about law student orientation week. The article is filled with great gems.
From the article:
Keys to legal research success
Get to know your librarians
These people are the oracles of legal information and they want to help you. David Michels says he even answers calls from graduates stumped by a research problem. “We won’t chide you. We’ll teach you as many times as it takes until you can learn these skills. We’re a service profession,” he says.
Take an advanced legal research course
That mandatory first-year course gives you the basics, but if you want that information to stick, you have to keep it up, says Louis Mirando. At the very least, take advantage of the refresher and training sessions offered by the library. “In first year, you have neither the context nor the opportunity to put into practice what you’re learning.”
Get out of the Google-search mindset
Each database works differently, so ask the librarian to show you how it works and the tricks for getting the best results. “You don’t want to end up with 500 hits where the leading case is on screen five of the results, because you’re going to give up before you get there,” says Michels.
Look beyond Quicklaw and Westlaw
Kim Clarke says students are too reliant on the two largest legal research databases, when there are many other useful resources for specific areas of law. “They are the primary databases, but don’t get into a rut. There are plenty of other databases.”
Use secondary sources
Why waste all of your time redoing work somebody has already done for you. “Greater minds than yours have tackled most problems and there are books by them,” Mirando tells his students.
Know when to stop
If you’re spinning your wheels on a particular issue, call for help. “When you’re spending an hour on something, you’re not getting anywhere and you’re just getting frustrated,” says Clarke.