I am teaching an internet legal research course this term (basically, teaching students where to find free, reliable resources for legal research, as they likely will not have the unfettered access to Westlaw and Lexis that they enjoy in law school once they graduate) and have been struggling all term with the assignments I’m giving.
I’m finding it increasingly difficult this term to come up with problems that force students to think about constructing good searches and use the tools wisely, but that aren’t so complicated that (1) the students get frustrated, and (2) distract the students into over-analyzing the legal issue at stake, rather than re-thinking their research strategy.
Friday is state administrative law/local ordinances day, and I’m just not as into that topic as much as case law research. Probably because I don’t understand it as well. I’ve come up with a good topic that requires – or rather, encourages – the search for and use of not only the state administrative rules, but also state statutes, as well as local ordinances, and even the search for administrative judge opinions and appellate court opinions, but I’m having trouble drafting the problem.
I figure it’s ultimately more realistic to ask them to search multiple different types of sources, because in the real world they’re unlikely to do thorough research in just consulting one type, but unless I spell out for them where they have to go and how many things they’re likely to find (which isn’t realistic at all), it seems they won’t find the stuff that I’m hoping they’ll find. So, it’s a conundrum. If anybody has any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear it.
In other news, apparently a new superhero was born at our house. Her superhero name is “Naked Baby,” and so far her superpower is, well, running around naked. Stronger than her mama’s encouragement for modesty, faster than her daddy, able to resist all attempts to clothe her person!
She needs a cape.
But she’ll refuse to wear it.