Law Profs Not Gaga About Google
Will the generation of lawyers that grows up on Google and Wikipedia know how to navigate a law library? During a three-day conference this weekend at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, many professors expressed concern that law students are not prepared for the extent of research required to become a lawyer, according to a report in the student newspaper, The Daily Texan. One professor, Harvard Law School's Virginia Wise, said the turning point for her came in 2001, when the realized that all of her students were starting their research with Google. Others bemoaned the fact that students enter law school never having had to write a paper longer than five pages.
The law school's Tarlton Law Library convened the conference, Teaching the Teachers: Effective Instruction in Legal Research, largely in response to the National Conference of Bar Examiners' announcement last year that it would explore an add-on to the bar exam that would test legal-research skills. That, in turn, would require law schools to re-examine how well they teach legal research and writing.
At the University of Texas, educators are tackling the problem at the undergraduate level, instituting a requirement that all degree programs teach independent research skills. "Hopefully," explained Paul B. Woodruff, dean of undergraduate studies, "we can say in a few years that our graduates know what they can and can't do with Wikipedia."
What do you think? Is our dependence on Google robbing lawyers of fundamental research skills? Should law schools beef-up their teaching of research and writing?
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 22, 2007 at 06:21 PM | Permalink
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