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 35 of 55

34 AALL SPECTRUM | WWW.AALLNET.ORG and resources to pass along to help guide cost-effective research. Research Tips 1. Understand the question. All too oen, law students and new associates misunderstand the question being asked. It is essential to understand what work product is required, the scope of the project, and the types of resources to look for: statutes, cases, etc. 2. Understand the budget. It is import- ant for attorneys to understand how much is billable back to the client and whether there is a cap on that amount. To that end, attorneys must also under- stand the charges for searches or docu- ment retrieval in commercial databases such as Westlaw or Lexis Advance. 3. Assess available resources. It is important for all researchers, students, attorneys, and pro se litigants to know that the number and type of resources available will guide the direction of research. See page 33 for a list of cost-effective alternative resources. 4. Make a plan. Researchers should begin with preliminary research infor- mation such as jurisdiction, relevant facts, background information needed, and sources to search. Assessing prog- ress throughout the research process will indicate if the plan is sound or if changes to terms or approach are warranted. 5. Know when to stop. Researchers seeing the same results over and over again aer following a comprehensive plan should feel confident in their results or seek the guidance of their closest law librarian. Playing It Smart In addition to teaching students to use their resources wisely, it is important to make sure that they know that a large part of cost-effectiveness is being an efficient researcher, not just choosing the least expensive or free resource. is could mean choosing a flat-fee resource that still comes with a cost or it could mean choosing to use Westlaw and/or Lexis Advance when the cost to pay-as-you-go is less than spending the additional time to use a low-cost or free resource that requires the attorney to bill for additional time. Teaching students, newer attorneys, and public patrons the most efficient and cost-effective way to retrieve the results they are seeking will likely continue to be part of law librarians' jobs for many years to come. When it comes to teaching law students, it is crucial to start teaching these skills in their first year, and to continue training and education throughout their time in law school. is can be accomplished through formal course- work or informal workshops. By taking the initiative to teach law students these skills, librarians help create more well-rounded legal researchers who will begin their careers prepared to research efficiently and effectively. ¢ REBECCA A. MATTSON SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATIONS AND FACULTY SERVICES LIBRARIAN Penn State Law H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library University Park, PA ram6023@dsl.psu.edu THERESA K. TARVES EMERGING TECHNOLOGY AND DIGITAL RESEARCH LIBRARIAN Penn State Law H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library University Park, PA Tkb115@dsl.psu.edu © 2016 BY THERESA K. TARVES © 2016 BY REBECCA A. MATTSON resources. Others were mindful of the searches they ran and the amount of time they spent while using "billable" resources. Unfortunately, some stu- dents missed the point—using mostly free internet resources instead of the appropriate commercial databases— keeping costs extremely low at the expense of reliable research. In the course, students learned some cost-effective strategies and generally understood that they will be working within budgets at summer jobs and in practice. Due to first-year students' lack of legal research knowledge, it is oen not until their first internship that they realize the true value of what they have learned. Although instruction of cost-effective research in the first year is critical, it is equally crucial to follow up during the second and third year to really hone these skills and instill their value, aer they have more context. e extent to which students will carry the learning into the workforce is difficult to gauge. Research Readiness: Tips and Resources When choosing alternative resources, there are two main factors that come into play that are less important when dealing with a larger, well-known legal publisher or vendor—namely reliability and content. A lot of what you are paying for with Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law is the reliability of knowing that the infor- mation is true, correct, and credible, and that the content is kept up to date. Since law students and many new attorneys are used to relying on the internet as a primary source of infor- mation, they may not be as equipped to judge the reliability of a resource, nor are they always aware to check whether or not a resource is up to date. erefore, in addition to teaching law students the steps they should follow to conduct cost-effective research, it is important to educate them on how to determine if a resource is credible and current as well. Whether you are teaching law students, training new attorneys, or helping the public, here are some tips

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