" To See Between ": Interviewing as a Legal Research Tool

  • Turley S
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Abstract

Legal researchers often seem wedded to the memorialized, printed word, leaving them reluctant to look elsewhere. While valid reasons support a general preference for documents as source material, legal writers do themselves, their audience, and the profession a disservice when they fail to explore all research options. One of those options is the interview, defined as, among other things, a 'conversation, such as one conducted by a reporter, in which facts or statements are elicited from another.' Lawyers at times relegate interviews to client intake or counseling sessions or to witness preparation - or they view them, as does the dictionary, as the purview only of reporters and others charged with news gathering. Such a perspective, however, ignores the similarities between the law and journalism. It also overlooks the realities of what legal writers should hope to accomplish through legal research and writing and how interviewing can help achieve those goals. This article posits that interviewing people is a valuable yet underutilized research tool. To do so, it briefly examines the parallels between journalism and the law and explores why the law often seems to prefer print over people. It then discusses how and why interviews have proven worthwhile in legal research and how they can be even more useful. After looking at the interviewing training (or lack thereof ) that lawyers receive, the article closes with suggestions for effective interviewing, including examples from the author’s own experiences.

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Authors

  • Susan L Turley

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