Wednesday, April 24, 2019

New barristers' information literacy during their transition from education to the workplace. #lilac19

Pam McKinney here again continuing live blogging from the LILAC conference. Anne Binsfield, a graduate of UCL, spoke about her masters dissertation research into new legal professionals transition into the workplace in terms of their IL experiences which is an under researched area. Transition from university to the workplace places new IL challenges on new barristers. Anne’s research focused on barristers undertaking pupillage, or those who had qualified in the last 2 years. The route to becoming a barrister is long and complicated, and involves many stages of advanced qualifications. Pupillage is a 12 month period of workplace training where they hone their IL capabilities and legal research skills. Anne took a qualitative research approach and interviewed 9 participants.

 Findings were that new barristers struggle with research, and have to focus on applying the law rather than critiquing it. New barristers have to find the right answer, and quickly, which is quite different from academic study. Being a successful researcher is an important aspect of professional identity, and many find it enjoyable. However they felt that university hadn’t prepared them for professional research, and for other aspect of how to behave as a barrister, including how to interact with clients and other legal professionals.

New professionals need to develop new mediation strategies for Information problems. Training was seen to be irrelevant, but they did value self learning through experience and experimentation. Pupil supervisors were a useful source of information, as were other people in the workplace.  It was important to ask the right information of the right person. Supervisors were important in involving the pupil in the professional milieu, to enable the pupil to build their knowledge of the environment and how to act effectively. WhatsApp groups facilitated peer support between pupils who had been at university together. Storytelling about experiences was another important aspect of sharing learning, and quickly building professional competencies and identities. So far from being a dry text based learning environment, actually there was a focus on social learning.

In summary,  IL at university is different to the IL needed in the workplace, and a new definition of IL is needed to reflect the complexity of IL in the workplace. Law librarians need to understand the situated learning aspect of new legal professionals.

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