2003 Founders' Celebration Events

Finding the Law:
Confronting the Challenges of Legal Research in an Electronic Age

April 11, 2003

For over a century, the process of legal research involved the same basic tools. Using a legal encyclopedia, annotated code, or other secondary source, the researcher would identify the area of law to be researched, would discover the West key number relevant to the area, and would search for cases identified by that number in the case digests. Having found cases in the relevant jurisdiction on the topic, the researcher would read the cases and update the important ones for currency using the Shepard's Citator. This process has formed the backbone of legal research courses in law schools since that subject has been taught, and it is still taught in much the same way today. The past few years, though, have seen dramatic increases in the importance and use of electronic research tools like Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, and their less expensive counterparts like Loislaw. At the same time, the increased expense of buying and storing the necessary print resources to conduct efficient and effective legal research has meant that the importance of these traditional resources has been diminished to the point where it is possible to see a future where all legal research is conducted electronically.

This conference addressed the challenges facing current and future legal researchers. Speakers representing a variety of viewpoints -- from the academy, the practicing bar, and from the legal publication area -- focused on how legal research will be conducted in the future, and what practical and ethical challenges will flow from the changes presently underway.


9:15 am
Introduction & Welcome
Dean Claudio Grossman
American University Washington College of Law

9:30-10:45 am
"The Academy's Perspective: Teaching Legal Research In the 21st Century"

Robert Oakley
Director of Law Library; Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Former President, American Association of Law Libraries

Deborah Schmedemann
Associate Dean for Skills and Clinics; Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

Amy Sloan
Co-Director of the Legal Skills Program; Associate Professor of Law, University of Baltimore; President, Association of Legal Writing Directors

Q&A Session

10:45 am

11:00 am -12:15 pm
The Practical Impact of the Changes in Legal Research

Leah Lorber
Of-Counsel, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Christine Ciambella
Legislative Librarian, Miller & Chevalier

Kelly Pride
Pride Law Office

Q&A Session

12:30-1:30 pm
Lunch & Keynote Address
Melissa Barr
Legal Resources Specialist, Cuyahoga County Public Library

1:30-3:30 pm
What the Future Holds: Legal Research from the Publisher’s Perspective

Dan Dabney
Senior Director for Research and Development, Legal Product Development, West Group

Judy Floyd-Evans
Director, Librarian Relations Group, Lexis-Nexis

Joseph W. Shea, III
Casemaker Consortium

Michael Asen
Product Manager, Loislaw.

Q&A Session