As the electronic age makes more information more freely available, it becomes increasingly important to get the right information from the appropriate sources.
I can confidently say that a book like this did not exist when I started my legal studies, learning how to research from colleagues and lecturers as I went along – sometimes the hard way. This would have been an invaluable student text then, of the type that you can still pick up and refer to many years later.
By its nature, it is very much a reference book, rather than something you would sit and read at length, and as it is divided into four parts, including selection and presentation, it is clearly designed to educate as well as inform.
Nowadays, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the computer is the fount of all knowledge. I was told by a former colleague that he just ‘Googled the answer’ to problems, but if you have the opportunity to hear the author addressing you on the subject, as I did several years ago, you will hear that many search engines are only able to capture a surprisingly limited percentage of the information available on the internet.
Do not assume that the internet contains all the law, either.
As online services develop, with improved precedents and knowledge banks, one might wonder what the future of legal research will look like.
However, I do not think those sources will replace the basic skills that future students and practitioners will need. I doubt there is any practitioner who would not learn something from this book, and there should be a space for it in any serious legal library.
Author: Peter Clinch
£45 (hardback), Wildy Simmonds & Hill Publishing
David Holt is lead lawyer (commercial practice group), Suffolk Legal, Suffolk County Council