Law research at Melbourne Law School

Law research at Melbourne Law School

December, 17, 2010 • Posted by 0 Comments

In her article ‘Life-long learning’ for Legal Information Management, Natalie Wieland examines how legal research is taught at Melbourne University. “Melbourne Law School recognises that teaching legal research is just as critical in the computer age as it has always been. In September 2008 I was employed in the position of Legal Research Skills Adviser, in the Office of Teaching and Learning in Law . This role is divided into two parts:

1. Providing courses and lectures in legal research;

2. Providing a consultation service to students to assist them with specific research tasks”.

Wieland describes some of the courses on offer at the University:

“Research and Writing in Real Time. This is a one-day practical workshop providing students an opportunity to research a legal matter and write a short memorandum of advice. I conduct this with my colleague Dr. Anthony McCosker, who is the Law School’s Language and Learning Adviser. He has broad experience in teaching academic skills to students across the University of Melbourne and within the Law School. This workshop aims to help further develop and test research and writing skills in preparation for work in a law firm. Through instruction, examples and real time exercises, Researching and Writing in Real Time demonstrates how to find the right information fast, how to record and present a research trail and how to communicate the findings clearly in written form to colleagues or clients.

How to be a Thinker not just a Finder. This half-day course focuses on teaching students to have research strategies and techniques, rather than just randomly searching. Many of our students have great finding skills, but neglect to ask who published the material, and when it was last updated. This course focuses on teaching students how to be thoughtful researchers.

Get Ready for Work Programme. This is an optional one-day course that is offered to all Melbourne University law students. It is a practical legal research training programme that targets those about to enter into seasonal clerkships (law firm based work in university breaks), internships, and graduate traineeships. Approximately 133 students from the LLB and JD have been through the programme to date.

The course is broken down into four two-hour sessions:

Session 1 – Understanding legal resources. Understanding authority, currency and developing methodologies.

Session 2 – Understanding the legislative process and researching within it.

Session 3 – How to refine the task, the “reference interview”, where we watch a short video that I developed with Bliss Consulting, where a young law graduate forgets to ask the questions necessary to be able to conduct her research in a timely and effective manner.

Session 4 – How to create a research trail”.

For the full article, see: Wieland, N, Life-long learning – how legal research is taught at Melbourne University, L.I.M. 2010, 10(2), 101-103. To find out more about the law school at Melbourne University, visit: