Look It up before You Leap: Guiding Students across the Academic-Vocational Legal Resource Divide Marcus Soanes  The City ...
Vocational Access to and Engagement with the Law Is Different to Academic Ones <ul><li>Academic and Practitioner Resources...
Research Questions <ul><li>How do learners on the vocational programme interact with the repositories of legal information...
Data Capture Methods <ul><li>Student Questionnaire </li></ul><ul><ul><li>524 FT + 44 PT Yr 1 = 568 students </li></ul></ul...
Practitioner Collaboration & Motivation <ul><li>Practitioners did not explicitly exchange knowledge or share skills when s...
Practitioner Preference  <ul><li>Practitioners prefered paper to online resources when accessing legal commentary </li></u...
Student Collaboration <ul><li>Student collaborative study habits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research is primarily perceived as...
Students’ Motivations to Research <ul><li>Frequency of research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opinion Writing and Legal Research: ...
Student Motivators to Conduct Research <ul><li>Motivators </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of e...
Students’ Metaphors for Researching the Law I <ul><li>Task-related metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Gazing: e.g. seen, overview...
Students’ Metaphors for Researching the Law II <ul><li>Emotion-related metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Apprehension of loss of...
Students’ Metaphors for Researching the Law III <ul><li>Concepts of Fault and Forgiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Errors framed ...
Recommendations for Vocational Course Design I <ul><li>It is unwise to presume a base-level familiarity with ‘core law’; t...
Recommendations for Vocational Course Design II <ul><li>Ineffective Student Habits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ grazing’ acros...
Discussion Points for Academic Course Designers <ul><li>When and where on academic programmes should learners be required ...
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Look it up before you leap: guiding students across the academic-vocational legal resources divide

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Slides for the presentation by Marcus Soanes (City University) at LILAC10.

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Look it up before you leap: guiding students across the academic-vocational legal resources divide

  1. 1. Look It up before You Leap: Guiding Students across the Academic-Vocational Legal Resource Divide Marcus Soanes The City Law School City University London Lilac 2010
  2. 2. Vocational Access to and Engagement with the Law Is Different to Academic Ones <ul><li>Academic and Practitioner Resources: the Bridgeable Divide </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration, Motivations and Preferences in Research: Practitioners and Vocational Students </li></ul><ul><li>Vocational Students’ Metaphors of Their Research </li></ul><ul><li>Vocational and Academic Course Design Proposals and Discussion: Bridging the Divide </li></ul>World-class legal education in the heart of London
  3. 3. Research Questions <ul><li>How do learners on the vocational programme interact with the repositories of legal information as part of the knowledge creation process? </li></ul><ul><li>How do these interactions compare to those experienced by junior lawyers in practice? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Data Capture Methods <ul><li>Student Questionnaire </li></ul><ul><ul><li>524 FT + 44 PT Yr 1 = 568 students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>475 returns = 83% response rate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus Groups (x2: 3 & 6 students) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Presented a summary of the questionnaire analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sought details of student legal research practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tested preliminary theories/conclusions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunity for students to ask questions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Practitioner Survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>12 members of the profession </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paper open-script questionnaire </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sought out more recently called practitioners </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Practitioner Collaboration & Motivation <ul><li>Practitioners did not explicitly exchange knowledge or share skills when searching for legal information </li></ul><ul><li>The skills and methodologies required to support effective research were probably developed by the individual when </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Working alone, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Drawing on personal experience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>They most commonly researched in preparation for advising </li></ul><ul><ul><li>8/12 preparation for advice giving tasks i.e. conference (4) or writing an opinion (4) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They were motivated to increase their legal knowledge on a needs-must basis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>6/12 needed to locate established but less familiar law & a further 2 to refresh their memory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3/12 were investigating ‘cutting edge’ legal developments </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Practitioner Preference <ul><li>Practitioners prefered paper to online resources when accessing legal commentary </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Respondents selected books which they identified as authoritative & which they were able to access easily </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Practitioners used a wide variety of online resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online resources were used to update procedural rules and case law, but accessing commentary online was not common </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Student Collaboration <ul><li>Student collaborative study habits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research is primarily perceived as a lone, intellectual activity (this matches the practitioners’ perception) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When students do meet they rarely make formal arrangements, many meetings are serendipitous </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thus unless an individual student is able and willing to conduct research for himself or herself, it either won’t be done at all or will be done incompletely and incompetently! </li></ul>
  8. 8. Students’ Motivations to Research <ul><li>Frequency of research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opinion Writing and Legal Research: always/often </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Litigation and Evidence: frequently and equally for each subject </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy: only occasionally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drafting: rarely </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Deepening legal knowledge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal Research and Opinion Writing: the vast majority of students research to deepen their legal knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy: on the whole students do so </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drafting: some but not all </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Student Motivators to Conduct Research <ul><li>Motivators </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of error/correction </li></ul><ul><li>Written work more than oral </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities to deploy academic research habits </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment/grading </li></ul><ul><li>De-motivators </li></ul><ul><li>Laziness and not taking preparation seriously </li></ul><ul><li>Inconvenience of access to resources </li></ul><ul><li>Reliance on course materials </li></ul><ul><li>Oversimplification of legal issues </li></ul>
  10. 10. Students’ Metaphors for Researching the Law I <ul><li>Task-related metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Gazing: e.g. seen, overview, every single view point, show it to me, focus </li></ul><ul><li>Journeying: e.g. finding new routes, where to start, starting point, going back, going into depth, cover all my bases </li></ul><ul><li>Searching 1: Seeking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. going back, click around (online), feel around, find out, leads, don’t want to miss anything, discover, missing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Searching 2: Questing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. covering same or similar ground more than once i.e. ‘seen it before’, hit the ground running (at start of course), mystery, right answer (opinion writing). </li></ul></ul>World-class legal education in the heart of London
  11. 11. Students’ Metaphors for Researching the Law II <ul><li>Emotion-related metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Apprehension of loss of face </li></ul><ul><li>Not wanting to ‘screw it up’ </li></ul><ul><li>Research as a security blanket and a reassurance </li></ul><ul><li>Atmosphere in library during assessments described as ‘crazy’ and ‘frantic’ </li></ul>World-class legal education in the heart of London
  12. 12. Students’ Metaphors for Researching the Law III <ul><li>Concepts of Fault and Forgiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Errors framed as failings that required forgiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Formal assessments perceived as the ‘last chance’ </li></ul><ul><li>Public shame and personal guilt associated with evaluations of student’s private endeavours and personal abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Public judgments in classroom and assessment closely associated with the ever-present threat of humiliation </li></ul><ul><li>Missing Metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Enthusiasm for the law </li></ul><ul><li>Interest in the tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciation of the value of legal skills only featured in passing in the students’ accounts of their study behaviours </li></ul><ul><li>Concepts of professionalism did not appear at all </li></ul>World-class legal education in the heart of London
  13. 13. Recommendations for Vocational Course Design I <ul><li>It is unwise to presume a base-level familiarity with ‘core law’; therefore it is suggested that tutors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acknowledge that students are still learning ‘core law’ as well as the skills & knowledge including specialist law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explicitly instruct students of the need for confirmatory research in all skills work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenge students to seek expert/specialist legal knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote the transferability of research skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link research tasks to skills exercises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t isolate research in the ‘Legal Research Course’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acknowledge and address the students’ emotional responses to their learning experience both positive and negative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engender a sense of pride and professionalism in students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note that legal research skills will no longer be discretely assessed on the new Bar Professional Training Course </li></ul>
  14. 14. Recommendations for Vocational Course Design II <ul><li>Ineffective Student Habits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ grazing’ across several sources for similar information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ security blanket’ and book hogging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ magpie’ and ‘kitchen sink’ over-thorough and repetitive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Strategies to Address Ineffective Habits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision making strategies for multiple resource searching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instruction on the purpose, content, structure, and updating facilities of resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision rules for selecting resources and legal material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time management strategies to balance effort and benefit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coping strategies for working under pressure as distinct from ‘winging-it’ habits </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Discussion Points for Academic Course Designers <ul><li>When and where on academic programmes should learners be required and equipped to research the following? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primary legal resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practitioner commentaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remedies, sentencing, evidence and procedure </li></ul></ul>World-class legal education in the heart of London

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