Embedding research skills - Sarah Greer, Sarah Crofts and Sandra Clarke


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Presentation at the HEA-funded workshop 'Embedding legal research skills into the LLB curriculum'.

LETR identified that “legal research skills are not sufficiently acquired by the end of the academic stage” and recommends the introduction of distinct assessment in legal research to the LLB. This workshop explored the ways in which legal research skills can be developed and assessed within a qualifying law degree.

This presentation is part of a related blog post that provides an overview of the event: http://bit.ly/1hUljKb

For further details of the HEA's work on teaching research methods in the Social Sciences, please see: http://bit.ly/15go0mh

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Embedding research skills - Sarah Greer, Sarah Crofts and Sandra Clarke

  1. 1. Welcome to The School of Law Embedding Research Skills 7th April 2014
  2. 2. Legal Education and Training Review  Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA); Bar Standards Board (BSB); Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards (IPS)  Most substantial review of legal training since Ormrod report (1971)  Looked at every stage of legal training including academic stage  Legal research gets a special mention (recommendation 6)
  3. 3. How important is legal research? Barristers Solicitors CILEX All Respondents 5th 14th 13th 13th Table 2.5: Ranking of importance of skills and attributes by legal services providers Weighted (barristers, solicitors, CILEx members, and weighted average) and unweighted (all respondents).
  4. 4. How much time do lawyers spend on it? Table 2.6. Proportions of time spent on different activities in 2012 compared with the 1991 study 1991 2012 2% 2.5%
  5. 5. However......  There was a strong consensus that legal research skills are important and need to be addressed at different stages in the training process. Despite the small proportion of time spent, on average, doing legal research in practice, it is still considered to be a crucial skill... It was widely recognised that legal research skills were not sufficiently acquired by the end of the academic stage
  6. 6. BIALL  Trainees unfamiliar with paper based sources  “One hit only” searching  Extensive use of Google  Shallow and brief searches  Trainees lacked persistence, diligence and organisation in searching
  7. 7. What do we do at Greenwich?  Library seminars embedded in courses for all Undergraduate levels:  Level 4: Legal Skills*, Criminal Law * and Civil Liberties  Level 5: Land Law ** and EU Law *  Level 6: Family Law **, Competition Law** and Human Rights ***  Librarian is part of the programme team, and included in:  Staff email list, reviews, programme meetings, away days, staff/student meetings. * Include assessments designed by librarian, ** Support research assessments designed by academic staff. *** With Lexis trainer
  8. 8. Level 4: Legal Skills Email from Lucy Yeatman about topics students will be covering
  9. 9. BIALL Legal Information Literacy Statement  Research Skill 2.2 Determine which legal resources are most appropriate for the problem at hand. Reference to both print and online sources as necessary.  Research Skill 2.3 Formulate lists of search terms  Research Skill 2.5: Find legislation using paper or online sources as appropriate.  Research Skill 3.3 Demonstrate the ability to choose the right method of searching online and critically evaluate the information found
  10. 10. Demonstrate – Lexis Library: Legislation  Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  Start entering the title in the Title search box.  The “Act” box below the search box should be ticked by default.  Enter any section number in the Provision search box, e.g. 5A.  The Series number box is for the chapter number of an Act, e.g. 1997 c48
  11. 11. Students search for Legislation, using Lexis: Question 2 Which legislation repealed s.24 of the Terrorism Act 2000?  Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001 c.24), s.1(4), s.125, Sch 8 Part 1.  Enter Terrorism Act 2000 in the Title search box and 24 in the Provision search box.  Details on the repeal are listed under “Notes: Amendment”.
  12. 12. Demonstrate - Westlaw: Legislation  Human Rights Act 1998  Start entering the title in the Act/SI Title search box.  Select Section from the drop down menu in the Provision search box to search for a section, e.g. 12.  Notice the annotation available.
  13. 13. Students search for Legislation, using Westlaw: Question 1  Find the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  What is the Chapter number?  What is s.17 about?  Chapter 48  Infringement of copyright by copying.
  14. 14. Level 6: Family Law coursework
  15. 15. Searching Jordan’s Family Law  Case Search: searches within the Family Law Reports  Casename: M v C and Calderdale [1993] 1 FLR 505  Citation: [2006] EWCA Civ 551  Assisted Search: searches within all subscribed content  This exact phrase: legal parent
  16. 16. Searching in Lexis: Choosing key terms (related to Land Law coursework)  These could be a phrase such as:  “express grant”  “recreational right”,  “prescriptive right”,  “right(s) annexed to land”  “restrictive covenant”  “exclusive possession”  Lexis always searches words as a phrase, unless you instruct otherwise and will return results with words in that order.  Or individual words, such as “prescription” “licence”
  17. 17. Criminal Law 1 Crime Statistics: Context  Reports in in January in the news of inaccurate reporting of crime:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/statist ics-watchdog-to-launch-review-of-official-data-over- crime-fudging-fears-9075683.html  Discussion: has crime really reduced or is it just the way it is recorded?  Here is where to find the statistics and look at the trend.
  18. 18. Crime Statistics: Data.Gov.uk  http://data.gov.uk/  Enter search term: Crime, then select:  Crime statistics (from ONS),  Period ending September 2013 Download Bulletin Tables,  In this release, see links to :  Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending September 2013  Crime falls 10% in England and Wales according to Crime Survey figures  UKSA Assessment of crime statistics,  Reference tables, 01 Bulletin Tables, 4a Total Police..  http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/period- ending-september-2013/sum-crime-stats.html
  19. 19. The Land Law research exercise Learning Outcomes On completion of this coursework you will have: 1. Researched a specific area of law that has not been directly covered in lectures using a variety of paper and electronic sources; 2. Applied your research to a long problem question on that area of law; 3. Demonstrated your ability to provide succinct, coherent advice on a legal problem that you have researched; 4. Consolidated your understanding of rights over land; 5. Completed an assessment preparation record.
  20. 20. Steps Hand out coursework brief Library seminar Students begin assessment preparation record (APR) Interim feedback on APR Students hand in coursework plus completed APR and research certificate
  21. 21. Library Seminar
  22. 22. The Question Ed and Jo are the owners and licensees of a pub, the Jolly Roger, situated on the riverside in Gravesend. The pub is in an area which until very recently was an industrial estate. The pub has become very well known in the local area and further afield as a venue for new indie rock bands. At least four evenings a week there are gigs featuring new and more established artists, as well as an ‘open mike’ night on Wednesdays, at which anyone can turn up and perform. The pub is therefore very popular with music fans, and very busy most nights. In fine weather, the guests spread out along the adjacent river bank, and the pub doors are left open so they can all enjoy the music. About six months ago, a new development of small houses and apartments was built on an area formerly occupied by a derelict warehouse about 300 metres from the Jolly Roger. These dwellings have now been sold or rented to occupiers. Soon after the first residents moved in, Ed and Jo began receiving complaints about the disturbance from their pub. These have increased in number as the weather has got warmer and the pub doors are left open. The local council has recently become involved, and is threatening a noise abatement order. The council has also stated that it is the owner of the river bank area used by the pub’s customers, and that this use must cease. Ed and Jo have pointed out that they have been running the Jolly Roger for the last 25 years, and that for almost all of that time, they have been running gigs. The advantage of their location was that no-one was disturbed by the noise, and it is not their fault that someone has now built housing nearby. They maintain that they have acquired rights by way of easement to run noisy gigs and to permit their customers to drink on the river bank land owned by the local council. Advise Ed and Jo as to the merits of their claim. Note that you should restrict your answer to property law points and need not consider the details of an action in nuisance or planning law etc. You should, however, consider matters of public policy in answering this question.
  23. 23. Assessment Weighting The answer to the question is worth 20% of the marks for this course The assessment preparation record is worth 5% of the marks for this course.
  24. 24. Assessment Preparation Record AIMS 1. To develop each student’s coursework preparation, research and problem solving skills 2. To provide the student with an opportunity to reflect upon his/her own preparation techniques and to improve on them where necessary 3. To diagnose, and to improve on, any weaknesses the student may have in preparation and writing skills 4. To create an opportunity for feedback prior to the summer examination OUTCOME Each student will have had the opportunity to observe, reflect upon, and consequently, to develop his/her preparation, research and problem solving skills.
  25. 25. Marking Element Assessment criteria Research into primary and secondary sources The assessment preparation record must show that a variety of paper sources, both primary and secondary, have been utilised in preparing the assignment. The assignment is designed to be possible only if students have read primary sources (such as judgments in cases). IT skills The assessment preparation record must have attached to it a copy of your Lexis Online Research Certificate or Westlaw certificate. Planning of research The assessment preparation record must show evidence of planned research, which is then reflected in your essay. Critical analysis and reflection The assessment preparation record must show evidence of critical analysis and reflection. Time management The log must show evidence of work over a sensible timescale, as reflected in the dates shown and the dates of upload. Writing skills/use of language Correct, formal English, using correct conventions for academic English and appropriate tone and style. Presentation Skills Clear, follows instructions; exemplary application of a range of IT skills.