Friday, January 1, 2010

Google Scholar LOJ - Tectonic Shift in Legal Research?

Many practitioners (and students) are still unaware of the new Google Scholar Legal Opinions and Journal (LOJ) search features. As we transition into the new year it is worth taking a moment to remind ourselves that this new legal research tool could become as popular as Google itself, i.e., a ubiquitous free "first search" tool for the legal community. If it does, it will certainly fulfill its promise of being a legal research game changer.

Researchers still need to become more familiar with LOJ. There have been several blog posts by law librarians about LOJ functionality and searching issues. For a quick refresher about how the new LOJ search works you should probably read this fine summary by David Tsai and Courtney Minick on LLRX.

Not unlike Google itself, the actual functionality of Google Schoolar LOJ will remain a secret but, with a little use, it has not been too difficult to figure out the broad strokes. The main problem will always be the same: as attorneys we are tasked with the difficult job of being accurate and thorough. Using Google Scholar LOJ does not change that obligation. We must still exercise care in using any search engine and Google Scholar LOJ is no exception. You might be able to find an answer by using LOJ; but, is it the right answer? You can certainly start with LOJ but you must be prepared to use traditional research methods to make sure you are being thorough.

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