In response to the perceived need for improvement in legal research training, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has developed Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency. AALL members include a substantial number of information professionals actively engaged in performing and teaching legal research.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners recently completed a job analysis study of lawyers who had been in practice from one to three years. Ninety-eight percentof the lawyers surveyed stated that they were performing electronic research, giving it a significance of 3.26 on a four-point scale considering importance and frequency. The NCBE is discussing assessing important skills that are not currently being measured on the bar examination, including legal research. Susan Case discusses this study in The Testing Column of the March 2013 issue of The Bar Examiner.
AALL's Principles, Standards and Competencies provide a concrete framework for the assessment of research competency that can be applied at any point on the continuum of a legal professional's career and in any specific field within the legal profession. This section of the AALL website also includes the AALL report on the Principles and information on how law firms, law schools, courts, and bar examiners have used or contemplate using the Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency.
We hope that the AALL Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency will be useful to the legal community. New attorneys often arrive at their first legal jobs directly from law school, and may be immediately exposed to areas of the law which are new or unfamiliar. Quite often, they also have no strong sense of the various ways their research will be used or implemented by clients, particularly in non-litigation practices. The Principles, Standards, and Competencies can guide researchers by providing a framework for selection of sources and performing research. The Principles and Standards can also be used as part of a core competency training and skills assessment program for new associates or attorneys within law firms, corporate law departments or other legal environments.
As this section of the AALL website develops, we expect to gather examples of how the Principles and Standards may be used in various settings: courts, law firms, law schools, bar examiners. We encourage you to explore this content to see how the Principles and Standards could be used to assess the skills researchers need to perform with excellence in the workplace.