“My Name Is Connie, and I Will Be Your Librarian for the Next 10 Months…”

Articling students arrived en masse today in Toronto Bay Street firms. Upon arrival, they were immediately sequestered into training and orientation sessions to bring them up to speed with technology, practices and procedures in the firms. Every firm library staff have their own methods and madness for easing students into their new research roles.

Probably for the first time ever we are seeing an extremely tech-savvy group of students. They blog, they use chat rooms, and they don’t really need to be shown how to use e-mail (but it will be shown to them anyway, no doubt!). It will be interesting to see how this will change the role of law librarian in the firms, and how the firm cultures will gradually be transformed.

Welcome, new recruits!


  1. Another year of students – another debate. Is it possible to communicate the fine balancing of the use of paper and electronic that makes legal research an art and not a science?

    I’ve grown tired of saying that notwithstanding the improved access to legal research materials (courtesy of technology of course), producing legal research work product is no easier now than it was 20 years ago. You may find material faster but there is so much more material to sift through.

    Students arrive at law firms thinking they can do practically all their research at their desks in front of computers. They wade through case after case, offered up from on-line services, often without the context that would make their case review far more effective.

  2. The more things change, the more they stay the same…
    We have now put all 14 of our 2005-2006 articling students through their training, including Research boot camp. While they represent some of the top students from schools across the country, their online research skills are lacking. I have not witnessed an increase in abilities to research over the 10 plus years I have helped to train students, and in fact suspect the opposite. Comfort level with computers, internet and chatrooms etc. does not translate in skills in creating search queries or evaluative and analytical skills. I echo the previous comment that access to legal materials via electronic means, primarily the internet, has not made research easier. Most researchers would agree, I think, that it has made legal research more difficult and cumbersome.

    We have found the best method to counteract this is to train, then open the door for questions & help when the students get their assignments. The reference librarians are their first contact, then they’ll come see the research lawyers. We review their written product, which must include a detailed research plan [setting out search queries used, databases searched, paper sources used, etc.], and provide extensive comments and suggestions for revision.

    I’d be interested knowing more about others’ training programs, and also resources/assistance given to students once they are set loose on billable files.