AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / March/April 2016 / Volume 20, Number 4

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

Issue link: http://epubs.aallnet.org/i/655362

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Page 24 of 55

MARCH/APRIL 2016 | AALL SPECTRUM 23 W hat do new lawyers really need to know to be successful in practice? How can law schools create practice-ready graduates? How can law firm librarians help bridge any gaps during the onboarding process? What about new lawyers who land in small firms or other settings and don't have the benefit of research assistance? Law librarians are the answer. Legal Research Instruction: Ideal Versus Actual e key to success as a new attorney is to start early and to learn essential legal research skills in law school. e reality is that introductory legal research instructors are teaching a course that oen carries a single credit hour and is likely not a top priority for first-year students. Additionally, schools vary in their approach to legal research and writing training, including how it is taught and by whom. In a perfect world, every student would take Legal Bibliography, taught by a librarian, in an environment that makes this course of equal importance in a student's mind as Contracts, Torts, and Civil Procedure. is perfect world would also require that every student take an advanced or subject-specific legal research course. Unfortunately, this "perfect world" doesn't exist, and firm librarians must help bridge the gaps. Law Firm Onboarding: Covering the Basics In onboarding new associates, one of the challenges that firm librarians face is having adequate time for library orientation. While a few firms provide two hours or more for this session, it is far more common that library staff see new lawyers for only 15 to 30 minutes. During this time, having the opportu- nity to chat with incoming associates about what the library has to offer and how librarians can help them shine during the eight-week job interview that is summer associate season is essential. is includes explaining what resources to use for what kind of research, whether their assignment is best served by starting with print or digital resources, and when to ask for help. Covering firm policies for billing for electronic resources and how library staff can help with efficient and effective research will give them an early start. It can also be helpful for librarians to sit in during vendor training to interject valuable informa- tion, such as how to cost-effectively use resources within the firm's policies and contracts. Orientation that includes the following nine key takeaways is invalu- able to new lawyers. How to Take an Assignment Model assignment sheets are an effective way to ensure that associates gather all of the information required to successfully find an answer. e recommendation to use a model assignment sheet may be embraced or immediately disregarded; it's the librarian's responsibility to suggest best practices, not enforce usage. e author's model assignment sheet is double-sided with room for taking notes. It starts with housekeeping matters including who assigned the research, when it's needed, what it can be billed to, and what the answer should look like (memo, case list, yes/no). en it goes into details, including the nature of the question asked, if there is any background information needed to get started, if there are important names, dates, or terms of art, what jurisdic- tion to search, what the researcher is expected to find, and if there is GETTING TO PRACTICE-READY How law firm librarians facilitate the transition from student to practicing lawyer. Nine key lessons. BY SARAH K. C. MAULDIN BRIDGING THE GAPS FROM LAW SCHOOL TO LAW FIRM Images © AdobeStock.com/vencav and iStock.com/aleksandarvelasevic.

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