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

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



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

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

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