Faculty Scholarship
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Mind the Gap

Temple-Law-Library

We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in legal research—both how it is done and how it should be taught. For generations of lawyers, the process of legal research remained static, rooted in a bibliographic approach that reflected the print publication of legal materials. However, as legal sources have become digitized and migrated online, it is now impossible to talk about legal research from a purely bibliographic perspective. The organization of legal materials in digital databases is getting further and further away from the world of books it once replicated. The search box has replaced most print finding tools for legal research, and lawyers conduct most of their research electronically. Today, it would be irresponsible to teach legal research without a focus on electronic research, and many have abandoned teaching book research at all.

In recent years, legal writing professors and law librarians have given much scholarly attention to questions of pedagogy and training in a world of online legal research. One question that poses a serious and ongoing challenge is that of the generational divide between those in law practice, who grew up and learned research in an entirely bibliographic-based world, and those newly entering the profession, who have grown up in an entirely online environment. When it comes to legal research, does audience matter?

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