Legal Research for Library Technicians

Yesterday I visited the 2nd year Reference and Research class at Grant MacEwan University’s Library and Information Technology Program. I was the wrap up guest lecturer for the legal information component of their course. It was fun being surrounded by enthusiastic learners who are preparing to embark on a career in my chosen field.

One of the things we discussed was how things have changed for library technicians engaged in legal information management since I graduated from Grant MacEwan’s program (ack) 20 years ago. The changes are substantial and when you consider some of them:

  • The Internet
  • Courts and tribunals providing copies of written decisions via web
  • Privacy legislation
  • CanLII
  • Changes in the Canadian legal publishing market
  • Blogs
  • Open access
  • Mobile
  • The rise and also disappearance of CD-ROM
  • USB devices
  • Digitization
  • eBooks
  • Textbooks available in database products
  • Legislation available in a format other than print

One thing that has not changed is the legal industry’s need for skilled individuals to cope with these rapid evolutionary changes. Despite valid speculation about layoffs, I remain optimistic about the job market for information professionals in this industry. There is simply too much rapid, substantial change for lawyers to collectively manage without help from their administrative teams.


  1. Thank you for your optimistic note, Shaunna. I am teaching in the new Legal Research and Information Management graduate program at Durham College here in Ontario. Students in the program come from a range of backgrounds including law clerk, paralegal and library among others. In my class we too are exploring career opportunities, and we are discovering how much change there is in the legal industry. I am also optimistic that there will be new opportunities for administrative staff as lawyers seek to “do more with less” and look to find new ways to maintain the same level of excellence in their work.

    It is an exciting time of change!