A Short & Happy Guide to Advanced Legal Research (Table of Contents and Chapter 6 on The Ethics of Online Legal Research)
A Short and Happy Guide to Advanced Legal Research (West Academic 2020) ISBN: 9781640207486
Posted: 18 Sep 2020 Last revised: 28 Oct 2021
Date Written: August 11, 2020
Legal research and writing are the skills every practicing lawyer relies on to be successful, but every practicing lawyer also needs to be aware of the ethical issues associated with online legal research. This chapter will explore the ethical duty lawyers have to their clients while conducting legal research online. ABA Model Rule 1.1 imposes a duty of competence upon all lawyers and defines competent representation to include “the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” Because conducting research is often an essential part of the “thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation,” this ethical component applies directly to legal research.
Today’s lawyers also need to understand whether litigation analytics and/or AI will be cost and time efficient for their client’s issue in order to be both competent and thorough. A lawyer’s duty of competence now includes a duty regarding technology, which includes new legal research technologies using artificial intelligence and litigation analytics. Lawyers must “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” Thirty-seven jurisdictions have adopted an “ethical duty of technology competence” as part of their rules of professional conduct, and Florida and North Carolina now require specific technology Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits. While there is not a consensus on what “technology” is — it can range from using email to creating smart contracts — conducting legal research online requires an understanding of the associated risks to your clients.
The attached excerpt includes the table of contents for the book and the chapter on the ethics of online legal research. The chapter discusses the duty of competence related to AI and litigation analytics, cloud-based services and third-party vendors, preventing the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information, and reasonable fees.
The Short and Happy Guide to Advanced Legal Research is aimed at teaching law students cost-effective, time-efficient legal research. The intent of this book is to zero in on the legal research resources necessary to meet the needs of the researcher at any particular stage of civil litigation. Each chapter identifies free and fee-based legal research options as good, cheap, and/or fast. The emphasis is on how to find the necessary information in the most efficient manner.
This book could be used as a supplement in pre-trial or civil litigation courses. This book is included in the West Academic study aid package, and if your school is a subscriber, the book is available for free to your students.
Keywords: Legal Research, Teaching Legal Research, Legal Research Process, Online Legal Research, Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, Fastcase, Casemaker, Pre-Trial, Civil Litigation, Litigation
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