Eclipse

Articles filed under Legal research

“Every decision is binding no matter whether it is reported in the regular series of Law Reports, or is unreported. Once you have the transcript, you can cite it as of equal authority to a reported decision. It behoves every counsel or solicitor to find, if he can, a case – reported or unreported – which will help him advise or win his case.” – Lord Denning

In the days of printed law reports, there was a very real upper limit to how many cases could be reported – you can only fit so many in a book.

With digital content, no such physical problem exists, but other constraints remain. The process of producing high-quality reports of lengthy judgments is time-consuming and expensive. Consequently, fewer than 20 per cent of UK higher court cases end up in law reports – either leading or specialist series (based on the number of reported and unreported cases in the Justis database of UK superior court judgments).

It’s worth noting this limit is simply indicative of resources, rather than legal significance. It is a statement that only 20 per cent of cases can be reported, and says nothing about how many should be.

Middle Temple Library and computerMiddle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court responsible for calling students to the Bar. It is a modern institution with ancient foundations, and this can be handily demonstrated by how the Library has grappled with new technology over the centuries, leading us into the internet Age. A library has existed at Middle Temple since at least the time of Henry VIII, although this was eventually emptied by members as the doors always remained unlocked. It was in 1641, at the bequest of Robert Ashley, that a library at Middle Temple was re-established. From then on the Library has continued to grow, and today houses over 250,000 volumes, encompassing the whole range of British, Irish, EU and US legal research resources.

Adapted from Binary by Michael Coghlan

With Natasha Choolhun

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is undergoing a programme of education and training reform, “Training for Tomorrow”, following the Legal and Education Training Review (LETR).

As part of the reforms the SRA are developing a competence statement for solicitors to inform consumers, assist legal education providers in developing courses and allow solicitors to reflect on their own professional development throughout the course of their careers.

The idea of a joint project with one of the major legal publishers had been under consideration by the Law Society Library team for some time before the actual project kicked off in January 2007. Over the following 12 months the joint project team of Law Society Library staff and LexisNexis met on a weekly basis to define the scope of the project and then work through each stage in the creation of the new legal information website geared to the needs of solicitors.

My experience in managing Library and Information Services in London and in the US has resulted in the emergence of a general theory of my very own. US and English/Welsh (E&W) trained lawyers use internet sources for research differently (I do not have personal experience of legal research in Scotland).