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Developing the legal information professional: A study of competency, education and training needs

Corrall, S and O'Brien, J (2011) Developing the legal information professional: A study of competency, education and training needs. Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, 63 (2-3). 295 - 320. ISSN 0001-253X

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Purpose: Legal information work has expanded with the growth in knowledge management and emergence of a new type of knowledge/information manager, the professional support lawyer. This study aims to investigate competency requirements for library-based information work in UK law firms, including the specialist subject knowledge required, methods of development and the impact on information professionals of professional support lawyers. Design/methodology/approach: The investigation used a pragmatic mixed-methods approach, including a mainly quantitative questionnaire, administered online to 64 legal information professionals, followed by eight semi-structured interviews and a focus group with four participants. A literature review informed the questionnaire design and contextualised the findings. Findings: The survey confirmed a broad range of competency requirements and clarified the specific subject knowledge needed. Participants favoured a varied combination of formal, and informal learning. Most participants also wanted specialised professional education for the sector. Research limitations/implications: The nature of the sample and use of categorised questions were limiting factors, partly compensated by inviting open-ended comments and follow-up interviews. A larger study using qualitative methods with professional support lawyers and fee-earners would provide a fuller more rounded picture. Practical implications: The findings indicate that the subject knowledge needed for legal information work in law firms is more extensive than for other sectors and suggest that information science departments should strengthen and extend curriculum content to reflect this need. Originality/value: The study has advanced the understanding of the competency, education and training needs of UK legal information professionals, challenging assumptions about academic/professional qualifications and illuminating the blend of competencies needed. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Corrall, Sscorrall@pitt.eduSCORRALL
O'Brien, J
Date: 1 March 2011
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives
Volume: 63
Number: 2-3
Page Range: 295 - 320
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1108/00012531111135718
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Information Sciences > Library and Information Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0001-253X
Article Type: Review
Date Deposited: 04 May 2015 20:49
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2019 20:55


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