Legal Research as a Fundamental Skill: A Lifeboat for Students and Law Schools
Sarah Valentine, Legal Research as a Fundamental Skill: A Lifeboat for Students and Law Schools, 39 U. BALT. L. REV. 173 (2010).
This article argues that current legal research education is dangerously deficient and demonstrates how it can be reconceptualized to become a synergistic first year course that supports the learning of doctrine and legal analysis, as well as necessary research skills in accordance with recent suggestions by the ABA, the authors of the Carnegie Report, and other legal commentators. Creating an excellent legal research course is not necessarily difficult. It requires that legal research be taught as both a fundamental legal skill, requiring analysis and doctrinal knowledge and as a fundamental lawyering skill, integrated into the entire first year curriculum, not merely linked to legal writing. In addition, it must teach information literacy skills and the teaching should be informed with adult learning methodologies. Such a course provides students not only with the necessary research skills for law practice, but assists them in building the conceptual framework necessary for legal analysis.