Anne Arundel Community College, known for its strong paralegal program, began offering continuing education unit (CEU) classes this fall in the areas of legal research, negotiation, and mediation.
The legal research classes were taught by Mary Jo Lazun of the Maryland State Law Library. The first class focused on print sources and the second class on using online resources. Ten people got up early on a Saturday morning to attended the first session and fourteen for the second. About half the class were practicing attorneys and the rest were a mixture of paralegals, students and even a librarian!
In the first class, held at the State law library, focused on the print sources. Mary Jo taught students how to maximize the use of secondary sources and how to locate superseded Maryland Code and COMAR and do a basic legislative history.The session was designed so that over 50% of the class time was devoted to using the materials in the library. Students quickly learned their way around the library and were impressed the library’s collections, particularly its superseded codes.
The online class, offered in one of the college’s computer labs, gave students a hands-on opportunity to compare Lexis and Westlaw while learning the basics of Boolean searches and locating case law by topic and headnote. Having access to both databases was a major plus. Students either focused their attention on the database they used the most or used the class as an opportunity to learn a new system. Like the “print” class, most of the time was devoted to hands on exercises and kept Mary Jo very busy answering moving from computer to computer.
According to Karen Cook, the director of the Legal Studies Program at AACC, “The feedback from the courses has been wonderful!.” The college is working on its fall schedule of CEU classes and both legal research classes offered again.