Summer Associate Training: What’s Lady Gaga Got to Do with It?

By , May 11, 2011 2:23 pm

by Kristine Lloyd

The blooming of dogwoods and the lengthening of our days signal the time of year when our summer associates will unpack their bags and take residence in our hallowed law firm halls. With a year or two of law school under their belts, they may have mastered the art of googling and picking the proverbial caselaw needle from the haystack, but their awareness of alternative resources is limited.

Westlaw and Lexis are staples of the daily law school diet. Even if summer associates don’t know how to use these resources cost-effectively, they know how to use them. What they don’t know about are all of the practice group specific resources that law schools either don’t subscribe to or do not regularly market to students.  As Laura Justiss laments, law students are rarely exposed to alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis.

During our orientations, we take a virtual tour through our library resources, and we place an emphasis on these alternate resources since they receive Lexis and Westlaw training separately. After their introduction to these resources, we conduct an Introduction to Legal Research course where we expose them further to as many of these resources as possible. Finally, we provide them with further training on a point of need basis. Sometimes we invite reps to come in and teach classes, but as we all know, it’s difficult to understand the nuances of a resource until you actually need to use it.

As we take our walking tours around the library, we get questions about whether certain treatises are on Lexis or Westlaw. Eyes that have spent years glued to computer screens seem to glaze over when they see a library the likes of Matlock’s, not that they know what that is (note to self: try not to use pop culture references from your own generation or you will seem old; throw in a reference to Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, even if you don’t know what you’re talking about). Since electronic is their preferred format, we try to point out all of the print resources that are available in electronic format outside of Lexis and Westlaw. Even though it may be a few years before they join the firm, it’s important to start introducing them to resources that they will eventually use in practice, and they’ll be thrilled that they don’t have to watch the clock to find the law. How are you incorporating these kinds of resources into your summer associate training?

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