Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Marquette Law Librarians Featured

In the summer 2011 issue of Marquette Lawyer, there is an informative two-page article about legal-research instruction at Marquette University Law School. Like most law schools, Marquette has a mandatory first-year research course, but it also has a required advanced course in legal research, "one of the few requiring that second course." The focus at Marquette is on training students to be good legal researchers, but also on teaching students "to become discriminating and careful users of the results they get." Because of the amount of information that is freely available, the latter focus is especially important. According to library director and Professor Patricia Cervenka, "[m]ore emphasis is being placed on critical thinking about what legal research finds ... You need to know how to blend sources, how to weigh different sources, and especially what sources to regard as reliable and authoritative."

I appreciated hearing about some of the techniques the Marquette librarians use in their legal-research instruction, such as "hands-on activities," "a fact scenario in each of the seven weeks of the one-credit upper-level course," and problems drawn from real life. The librarians also require students to use both print and online resources, and some students report that they find the print is sometimes easier to use than the online equivalent, an observation I often hear from my Advanced Legal Research students.

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