The Need for Experiential Legal Research Education

108 Law Libr. J. 511 (Fall 2016)

23 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2016 Last revised: 7 Dec 2016

See all articles by Alyson Drake

Alyson Drake

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: 2016


With thirty-five percent of a new attorney’s time and over thirty percent of all attorneys’ time being spent conducting legal research, law schools cannot produce practice-ready graduates without significant legal research instruction. Although attorneys hiring new associates routinely report that new hires’ research skills are insufficient, most firms are unable or unwilling to take on the cost of preparing their new associates to perform the skills they are expected to perform as members of the legal profession. Furthermore, legal research is closely tied to each of the four competencies laid out by the ABA in Standard 301, which requires law schools to ensure that their graduates are ready to be effective, responsible members of the legal profession. Since overcrowded first year skills courses are usually the only mandatory law school course with any time spent on legal research instruction, most law schools cannot honestly state that they meet these requirements without a shift in the availability of legal research courses throughout all three years of law school. With most legal research courses already having significant experiential components, designating legal research courses as experiential would allow schools to both increase offerings in legal research and to meet the ABA’s newly-expanded six credit experiential course requirement for every student. When structured appropriately, stand-alone legal research courses clearly meet the requirements laid out in the simulation category of experiential courses.

Keywords: experiential law courses, experiential research education, legal research instruction, legal research education, simulation courses, law practice

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Drake, Alyson, The Need for Experiential Legal Research Education (2016). 108 Law Libr. J. 511 (Fall 2016), Available at SSRN: or

Alyson Drake (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

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