"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lexis Advance "Certification"?

Over spring break, I received an email from my school's Account Executive, as did all of my colleagues and, presumably, all of the students. This email discussed how a person could easily become "certified" on Lexis Advance over spring break, because, clearly, law school students don't have anything better to do at this time of the year. [By the way, this post should not be considered a criticism of the Account Executives; I recognize that they are just doing their jobs, which, unfortunately, includes sending out these emails. They are not responsible for the content of the email nor the linked videos.]

According to the email, the process for "certification" is easy and the rewards potentially great. To become "certified", all one has to do is watch six short videos on the LexisNexis Law Schools channel on Youtube, completing short quizzes after each one, and then ask one's Account Executive for "the link to the Lexis Advance national online Certification exam." If you pass the exam, "your name will be added to the national registry of certified students and you can note on your resume that you have attained Lexis Advance Certification." The "certification" is meant to signify to "potential employers that you are proficient in legal research."

Sounds great! With all the employers complaining that students are graduating law school without the requisite research skills, surely such "certification" would be a boost to any student's résumé, right?

As the great(?) . . . uh, famous(?) . . . well, still living Lee Corso would say: Not so fast, my friend!

Let's take a look at the first video, How to Run an Efficient Search with Lexis Advance™. What would you expect the point of this video to be? Surely, the title would suggest that this video would show us how to run an efficient search on Lexis Advance. Yet, if that is the case, why, after telling us we need to find out about lemon laws in New York, does it fail to recommend using the pre-search Jurisdiction filter to limit our search to New York? Similarly, why does it suggest choosing the words lemon law from the Word Wheel rather than entering the phrase "lemon law" (quotation marks required in Lexis Advance)? (See "Problem with Word Wheel" in Some First Thoughts on LALS (Part 3) for the significance of this distinction.)

If the intent of this video was to demonstrate efficient searching, this video failed miserably. However, if the intent was to have law students build false "confidence in [their] abilities" and to bamboozle employers into thinking that a "certified" graduate is "proficient in legal research", then LexisNexis (or at least whichever department is responsible for these videos) has succeeded with flying colors! Of course, these are just two of the many problems I have with this and the other videos.

(By the way, not to sound too petty, but what is up with LexisNexis's obsession with Lexis Advance's folders?! I mean, really! Each and every video includes a 30-second explanation of how to create folders in Lexis Advance! So, it's impossible to run an efficient search, Shepardize® a case, or perform any research in secondary sources, caselaw, statutes, or regulations without first creating a folder?! You've GOT to be kidding me!)

Considering all the changes that LexisNexis has told us are coming, these videos are completely worthless. . . . No, wait . . . Even if those changes never come, these videos are completely worthless. And considering you need to sit through these worthless videos to get "certified", at this time, "certification" on Lexis Advance must be worthless too.

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