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Keeping up with the law: investigating lawyers’ monitoring behaviour

Stephanie Ellis (LexisNexis, London, UK)
Stephann Makri (School of Informatics: Computing, City University London, London, UK)
Simon Attfield (Department of Computer Science, Middlesex University, London, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 8 July 2014




The authors wanted to provide an enriched understanding of how lawyers keep up-to-date with legal developments. Maintaining awareness of developments in an area (known as “monitoring”) is an important aspect of professional’s information work. This is particularly true for lawyers, who are expected to keep up-to-date with legal developments on an ongoing basis.


The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with a group of lawyers who authored and published current awareness content for LexisNexis – a large publishing organisation. The interviews focused on identifying the types of electronic, printed and people-based current awareness resources the lawyers used to keep up-to-date with legal developments and the reasons for their choices.


The lawyers mostly used electronic resources (particularly e-mail alerts and an electronic tool that alerted them to changes in website content), alongside interpersonal sources, such as colleagues, customers and professional contacts. Printed media, such as journals and newspapers, were used more rarely and usually to complement electronic and person-based resources. A number of factors were found to influence choice. These included situational relevance, presentation, utility and trustworthiness, the speed of content acquisition and interpretation facilitated by the resource.


The authors' findings enrich their understanding of lawyers’ monitoring behaviour, which has so far received little direct research attention. Their design suggestions have the potential to feed into the design of new and improvement of existing digital current awareness resources. Their findings have the potential to act as “success criteria” by which these resources can be evaluated from a user-centred perspective.



The authors would like to thank the participants at LN for taking part in this research and David Bawden for his useful advice and guidance.


Ellis, S., Makri, S. and Attfield, S. (2014), "Keeping up with the law: investigating lawyers’ monitoring behaviour", New Library World, Vol. 115 No. 7/8, pp. 292-313.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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