In October, the Law Library ran its annual Student Summer Research Survey for 2010. Close to 100 upper-division students responded to the survey for which the Library is most grateful. There are some interesting highlights that we’d like to share. First, the split in employer types broke down roughly into fifths, with 22% at larger firms, 20% at smaller firms, 19% clerking for judges, and 23% working for government. Twelve per cent of respondents worked in public interest. Research was a major work duty with 59% spending at least half their work time on research. A statistic 1Ls may want to ponder as they consider the skills they will need for their summer work.
Lexis and Westlaw were commonly available, but 15% of the respondents did not have employer-provided Wexis. Other online resources used included Fastcase, BNA, CCH, HeinOnline, Google Scholar, PACER, and other government web sites. Pay-as-you go pricing plans for Wexis are still common with 30% of Lexis users having transactional/hourly pricing and 43% of Westlaw users on such plans. Almost 1/3 of respondents said their employers had a policy on minimizing research costs, including requiring approval to use online subscription sources, and specification of cost-saving techniques and low-cost sources to be used first. While Wexis and other online sources dominate, print is not yet dead with an overall 22% of research work being done in hard copy sources.
Eighty-one per cent of 2Ls believed that the research component of Lawyering did help prepare them for summer work. Of course, there were many useful comments on this point. Overall, 91% of respondents said they were prepared for their research duties. To the extent that they were not prepared, half said the Law Library should improve the research component of Lawyering and 20% said to offer more advanced/specialized research courses.
Again, the Law Library greatly appreciates all those who participated in the survey and congratulates the prize winners, Emily Pickering and Chris Wild. As one can see, the information gleaned from the survey is useful in charting the course of research instruction at Cornell Law School.