Easy Does It: Examining First-Year Law Student Impressions of the Online Resources They Use Most Often
Lisa D. Kinzer
University of Texas at Austin - School of Law
July 14, 2011
You’ve got what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
It’s a mantra heard in households across the country when kids sit down at the kitchen table and realize they do not have what they wanted for dinner. A few weeks ago, I had a “you’ve got what you get” moment as I was looking over data I had collected from first-year J.D. students at the University of Texas School of Law.
The data, as it turned out, were not what I wanted. I had asked students to name the online resource they use most often, and then to answer a series of brief questions about that resource. I had intended to (1) measure student use of WestlawNext, and (2) get a sense of what students think of WestlawNext. But in retrospect I realized I had not accomplished my second goal, because I had failed to collect any information about WestlawNext from students who do not use it. It is not particularly useful to hear about a resource from its fans, without also hearing from individuals who are perhaps not as enamored with that resource. So I could not use the data to write anything very interesting about WestlawNext.
However, some of the data patterns that emerged were so striking that I wanted to share them. I found that, regardless of whether a student is using Lexis, Westlaw, or WestlawNext, students are overwhelmingly convinced that their resource is the easiest to use. I also found that students are not nearly as convinced that their resource returns relevant material or everything they need. In addition, it seems that students simply do not care near as much about vendor rewards programs as vendors might have us believe. And finally, to the extent that their legal research professors have any preference as to what resource students should use, students are either unaware of that preference or simply unaffected by it.
In this paper, I review the data that create these patterns, and then try to sort out what these patterns mean, practically speaking. I will begin with an overview of my methodology, then review the results of the survey, and then turn to the implications and suggestions for further research.
**This paper is still working, and all data are subject to final verification.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: Lexis, Lexis Advance, Westlaw, WestlawNext, Westlaw Next, Law Students, Legal Research, Surveysworking papers series
Date posted: July 14, 2011 ; Last revised: December 18, 2012
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