Ian Gallacher


This article is a meditation on contemporary legal research and possible changes in the way the subject should be taught. Absent from this article is any mention of the importance of teaching students about the mechanical workings of the various tools lawyers use to conduct legal research. It seems so resoundingly obvious that law schools should be doing this that any discussion of the issue would appear contrived and sterile. The much more interesting, and more difficult, questions to answer are what else law students should learn, who should teach it to them, and why they should learn it. These are the questions this article seeks to address. It first seeks to identify and explain the tension between those advocates of traditional book research and those who wholeheartedly embrace computerized research and looks at the virtues and pitfalls of both approaches. It then reflects on some possible pedagogical strategies the legal research teaching community might adopt in order to bring law students further along in their understanding of this topic, looks at the way legal research is taught in American law schools and proposes that we recalibrate our approach to the subject, favoring a client-based approach over the more familiar medium-based approach in which book research is taught first and computer research second.