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Anyone who has taught a first-year legal research course understands the dilemma: How do we weave research skills into the writing program without sacrificing the quality or quantity of either discipline? In fact, it is difficult and time consuming to interweave any serious legal research instruction into a first-year writing course. What the students need to know is not just how to do a little case law research or how to find a statute: they need to also know how to formulate a research plan, how to evaluate a database, what kind of search works in different information environments, and how to assess the quality of information. It is hard to shoehorn that much research into the typically over-burdened first-year course. In addition, legal research professors have similar yet different pedagogical goals than legal writing professors.

Research, writing, and doctrinal analysis exist together as part of the creative legal problem-solving process. In the first-year curriculum, however, the goals of legal research pedagogy have been secondary to the goals of legal writing’s pedagogy. Making this instruction match up with a writing curriculum is not impossible, but it requires the kind of collaboration and time that very few first-year programs have the resources or the teachers to provide. In this article, instructional services director Lisa Schultz and associate professor and director of the law library, Susan Nevelow Mart, share their experiences and advice.