Is KM stopping lawyers thinking for themselves?

I originally posted this back in July 2011 on the blog which has now become my personal blog

This was the subject of a very interesting KM networking event I attended yesterday evening. The topic was inspired by the recent books and news stories on how the internet is changing the way peoples’ brains work, and it certainly generated a lot of discussion.

Some issues raised which particularly interested me were –

  • the difficulties that junior lawyers sometimes have following a logical argument, this stemming partly from internet use where they flit from hyperlink to hyperlink whereas in the past they would construct a logical search strategy before working their way through the relevant library books to the answer;
  • the desire for quick answers whether they are the best answers or not;
  • a tendency to accept whatever the website being consulted says without using critical legal thinking to check the facts or add to them;
  • F-pattern reading – I have been testing this on myself today and yes I do read more of what is on the left of the screen than the right side!;
  • Over reliance on Westlaw, LexisLibrary and PLC over legal textbooks (OK this one wasn’t news to me!)

I was intrigued enough by the subject matter to buy Future Minds: How The Digital Age is Changing Our Minds, Why This Matters and What We Can Do About It for my Kindle and I look forward to reading it.

It is evident that there is a need for us to continue to address information literacy issues in our legal research training, and that we should offer this training more regularly and to a wider range of fee-earners. Now to find more time in everyone’s already busy days for the training …