The Evolution of Legal Research Teaching: Embracing both External and Internal Challenges

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Legal research skills are fundamental to legal education, and must be scaffolded throughout the degree. I have taught legal research skills for over ten years, and have coordinated a first year, first semester topic that includes legal research for the past six years.
Various internal and external forces have impacted my ability to teach legal research skills to first year students. An internal restructure replaced a subject-specific Law Liaison Librarian with a cross-disciplinary team of librarians, which meant the loss of knowledge and teaching expertise in this field. Subsequently, a curriculum restructure reduced the amount of in-class teaching, reducing students’ hands-on experience and resulting in a significant redesign of the topic. Finally, Covid resulted in a move to online and hybrid teaching, which caused legal research classes to become disjointed and poorly attended.
Despite these challenges, key learnings from each method of legal research teaching have helped my approach to evolve. During this presentation I will explore these points, including: the involvement of (law) librarians in planning and teaching; the necessity of hands-on instruction; the separation of (and different teaching methodologies for) in person and online classes; and the use of formative and summative tasks to increase understanding and engagement.

Feliú, Vicenç and Helen Frazer, ‘Embedded Librarians: Teaching Legal Research as a Lawyering Skill’ (2012) 61(4) Journal of Legal Education 540.
Kift, Sally and Mark Israel, Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Project, ‘Bachelor of Laws,’ Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement, Australian Learning and Teaching Council (2010).
Schneider, Charlotte D, ‘Using Scaffolding techniques for Legal Research Instruction’ (2016-2017) 2 Legal Information Review 61.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
EventAustralasian Law Academics Association Conference - Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 7 Jul 20229 Jul 2022


ConferenceAustralasian Law Academics Association Conference
Internet address


  • Legal education
  • Law students
  • Research skills
  • Legal academia


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