Monday, December 12, 2016

Hone Those Research Skills

Practical legal research skills are critical
A while back, I read an article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal (Bar proposes revised practical skills requirements) by Lyle Moran that caught my eye. Apparently, the California Bar Association wants to include 10 hours of "practical" legal instruction while law students are still in school.  While the article did not say what specific skills the Bar want's new attorneys to focus, might I offer a suggestion?  Might I propose that in that 10 hour mix, law students spend at least three (3) hours at their local county law library to see what exactly their local county law library has to offer.  

All too often I'll see newly minted attorneys come into my law library without nary a clue how to find anything in print. They've spent countless hours using online resources but when it comes to print resources, they can't distinguish the difference between a Table of Contents and the Index (actually, that has happened more than once).  Even those students who use online resources exclusively generally only know how to use Natural Language searching (and that only taps about 15% of the full potential of online resources).

County law libraries are the oasis for attorneys who are just starting out.  County law libraries have online and print resources that attorneys (new and seasoned) can use to prepare for court (and learn about the law) without having to go into debt themselves.  Heck, county law libraries have resources most law firms can only dream about. 

For example, in addition to our online offerings of WestlawNext, Lexis Advanced, CEB OnLaw, HeinOnline, and Forms Workflow, the Riverside County Law Library houses California, Federal and General print resources like 
most of which should be recognizable to any law student attending any ABA or California accredited law school.  I say "should" because many new students are, sadly, never introduced or encouraged to use print resources and when they get out of law school and pass the bar, I hear the same thing over and over: "I never knew this existed."  

To those who "never knew it existed," I say, save your money and head over to your local county law library and see what what we can do for you!