“But it’s Not Required!” Regardless, Why Law Students Should Excel at Legal Research

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Law students generally want three things: (1) to do well in their courses; (2) to pass the bar exam looming ahead of them; and (3) to find a job. Achieving these three goals is admirable. With limited exceptions, students are not required to learn how to research effectively to excel at this list of goals.

However, not learning to research will negatively impact their future success as lawyers.

For law librarians who teach legal research, the conundrum pits the big vendors’ marketing budget, which is quite large, squarely against the budgets of the smaller vendors and the print collection which, by any measure, are much less impressive. With effort, law librarians can attempt to equalize this balance and provide our students with a number of research options and the skill to evaluate which might be best in various circumstances.

Our challenge, as teachers of law students, is to encourage them while they are in law school to adopt a fourth goal: (4) prepare to be an effective lawyer. To be an effective lawyer, one must become a proficient researcher by understanding both the cost and functionality of many different research tools.


Published in the Spectrum Online, a publication of the American Association of Law Libraries.