Legal Research in a Changing Information Environment


  • T du Plessis University of Johannesburg



Legal research, research methodology, online legal research, digital information environment, Internet, World Wide Web, legal information systems, data bases.


Since the advent of the latest constitutional dispensation in South Africa, legal researchers have been presented with new opportunities for research into constitutional issues, development and the relationship between constitutional law and other fields. This article investigates how information technology applications can support the legal research process and what the benefits of technology are likely to be to legal research. Furthermore, it investigates the changes and the impact that electronic resources and the digital information environment might have on legal research. This entails a study of the unique characteristics of digital legal research and of the challenges that legal researchers face in a changing information environment.



Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...



Adams 2002 (38)Trial

Adams KL "Online research strategies for the bookish lawyer: lawyers with more legal than technical know-how can still use the many computer tools available to enhance their research and make their arguments more persuasive" 2002 (38)Trial 58-62

Ambrogi 2001 NJ Law Journal

Ambrogi RJ "Do your research on the Internet: legal research web sites" 2001 (165) New Jersey Law Journal 34

Arkfeld The digital practice of law

Arkfeld MR The digital practice of law: the practical reference for applying technology concepts to the practice of law 5th ed (Law Partner Publishers Phoenix 2001)

Bast and Pyle 2001 LLJ

Bast CM and Pyle RC "Legal research in the computer age: a paradigm shift?" 2001 (93) Law Library Journal 285-302

Berring 2000 CLR

Berring RC "Legal information and the search for cognitive authority" 2000 (88) California Law Review 1675-1708

Botha et al (eds) Rights and democracy

Botha H, Van der Walt AJ and Van der Walt J (eds) Rights and democracy in a transformative constitution (SUN Press Stellenbosch 2003)

Burns and Beukes Administrative law

Burns Y and Beukes M Administrative law under the 1996 Constitution (LexisNexis Butterworths Durban 2006)

Corder and Van der Vijver (eds) Administrative justice

Corder H and Van der Vijver L (eds) Realising administrative justice (Siber Ink Cape Town 2002)

Currie and De Waal (eds) Constitutional law

Currie I and De Waal J (eds) The new constitutional and administrative law Volume I: Constitutional law (Juta Lansdowne 2002)

Dempsey et al 2000 IPM

Dempsey BJ et al "Design and empirical evaluation of search software for legal professionals on the WWW" 2000 (36) Information Processing and Management 253-273

Devenish 2006 JCRDL

Devenish GE "The theory and methodology for constitutional interpretation in South Africa" 2006 Journal of Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law 238-258

Devenish South African Constitution

Devenish GE The South African Constitution (LexisNexis Butterworths Durban 2005)

Ebbinghouse 2001 Searcher

Ebbinghouse C "Portals to the future of legal information" 2001 (9) Searcher 10-16

Feiertag Toeganklikheid van Internetbronne

Feiertag T Die toeganklikheid van Internetbronne in inligtingverskaffing aan regsgeleerdes (M Bibl dissertation PU for CHE 2000)

Halvorson Law of the super searchers

Halvorson TR Law of the super searchers: the online secrets of top legal researchers (CyberAge Medford 2000)

Hanft 1999 Legal RSQ

Hanft JK "A model for legal research in the electronic age" 1999 (17) Legal Reference Services Quarter¬ly 77-83

Hock The extreme searcher's guide

Hock R The extreme searcher's guide to Web search engines: a handbook for the serious searcher 2nd ed (CyberAge Books Medford NJ 2001)

Hoexter Administrative law

Hoexter C "The new constitutional and administrative law Volume II: Administrative law" in Currie I (ed) The new constitutional and administrative law (Juta Lansdowne 2002)

Holborn Legal research guide

Holborn G Butterworths legal research guide 2nd ed (2001 Butterworths London)

Katsh Law in a digital world

Katsh E Law in a digital world (Oxford University Press London 1995)

Komlodi and Soergel "Attorneys Interacting with Legal Information Systems"

Komlodi A and Soergel D "Attorneys Interacting with Legal Information Systems: Tools for Mental Model Building and Task Integration" Papers delivered at the American Society for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting 2002 Philadelphia, PA

Lawson Internet handbook for lawyers

Lawson J The complete Internet handbook for lawyers (American Bar Association Chicago 1999)

Leckie et al 1996 LQ 161-193

Leckie GJ, Pettigrew KE and Sylvain C "Modeling the information seeking of professionals: a general model derived from research on engineers, health care professionals and lawyers" 1996 (66) Library Quarterly 161-193

Lynch Accessibility and integrity of networked information collections

Lynch C Accessibility and integrity of networked information collections OTA-BP-TCT-109 NTIS (Congress of the United States 1993)

MacLachlan 2000 Geo J of Legal Ethics

MacLachlan LD "Gandy dancers on the Web: how the Internet has raised the bar on lawyers' professional responsibility to research and know the law" 2000 (13) Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 607-649

Maisel and Greenbaum Introduction

Maisel P and Greenbaum L Introduction to law and legal skills (Butterworths Durban 2001)

Montgomery "Introduction"

Montgomery J "Introduction to the newly launched SAFLII" Discussion with the Director: Legal Information Services (University of the Witwatersrand Law School 2004)

Pearmain 2006 JCRDL

Pearmain DL "Contracting for socio-economic rights: a contradiction in terms (1)" 2006 Journal of Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law 287-301

Rautenbach and Malherbe Constitutional law

Rautenbach IM and Malherbe EFJ Constitutional law (LexisNexis Butterworths Durban 2004)

Susskind The future of law

Susskind RE The future of law: facing the challenges of information technology (Clarendon Press Oxford 1996)

Thomas et al Introduction to legal skills

Thomas PA et al Dane and Thomas: how to use a law library: an introduction to legal skills 4th ed (Sweet and Maxwell London 2001)

Tjaden Legal research

Tjaden T Legal research and writing: Law in a nutshell (Irwin Law Toronto 2001)

Van de Vijver (ed) The judicial institution

Van de Vijver L (ed) The judicial institution in Southern Africa: a comparative study of common law jurisdictions (Siber Ink Cape Town 2006)

Van der Merwe Computers

Van der Merwe D Computers and the law 2nd ed (Juta Kenwyn 2000)

Van der Merwe and Du Plessis (eds) Introduction

Van der Merwe CG and Du Plessis JE (eds) Introduction to the law of South Africa (Kluwer Law The Hague 2004)

Van der Walt Constitutional property law

Van der Walt AJ Constitutional property law (Juta Cape Town 2005)

Van der Walt Law and sacrifice

Van der Walt JWC Law and sacrifice: towards a post-apartheid theory of law (Birbeck Law Press London 2005)

Venter et al Regsnavorsing

Venter F et al Regsnavorsing: Metode en Publikasie (Juta Kaapstad 1990)

Register of legislation

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996

Register of court cases

Minister of Safety and Security and Another v Carmichele 2004 (3) SA 305 (SCA)

Register of Internet resources

Best 2003 24 Feb

Best CP 2003 Legal research is an essential lawyering skill [Found on internet] [Date of use 24 Feb 2004]

Bush 1945 18 Sep

Bush V 1945 As we may think [Found on internet] [Date of use 18 Sep 2002]

Curran and Higgins 2000 JILT 19 Sep

Curran K and Higgins L "A legal retrieval information system" 2000 Journal of Information, Law and Technology [Found on internet] [Date of use 19 Sep 2002]

Dow 2001 htttp:// 4 Aug

Dow S 2001 Using the Internet for legal research [Found on internet] htttp:// [Date of use 4 Aug 2006]

Dutschke 2006 ESR Review 9 Aug

Dutschke M "Children's right to social services in South Africa" 2006 (7) ESR Review [Found on internet] [Date of use 9 Aug 2006]

Gabru 2004 PER 10 Feb

Gabru N "Dilemma of Muslim women regarding divorce in South Africa" 2004 (2) Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal [Found on internet] [Date of use 10 Feb 2005]

Granat 2001 30 Oct

Granat RS 2001 What is a digital lawyer? [Found on internet] [Date of use 30 Oct 2002]

Jeffries 1999 Law Technology Journal 25 Oct Jeffries J "Developments in legal databases: a law firm user's perspective" 1999 (1) The Law Technology Journal [Found on internet] [Date of use 25 Oct 2001]

Katsh 1996 JCMC 22 Sep

Katsh ME "Lawyers in the networld" 1996 (2) Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication [Found on internet] [Date of use 22 Sep 2002]

Katsh 1994 University of Pittsburgh LR 30 Oct

Katsh E "Digital lawyers: orienting the legal profession to cyberspace" 1994 (55) University of Pittsburgh Law Review 1141-1175 [Found on internet] [Date of use 30 Oct 2002]

Khoza 2006 ESR Review 9 Aug

Khoza S "The importance of a dialogue on strategies to promote socio-economic rights in South Africa" 2006 (7) ESR Review [Found on internet] [Date of use 9 Aug 2006]

Midgley 2004 20 Jul

Midgley JR 2004 Shifting the boundaries of knowledge: some thoughts on Societal challenges for law researchers in the Eastern Cape Province [Found on internet] [Date of use 20 Jul 2005]

Rautenbach et al 2003 PER 10 Feb

Rautenbach C, Jansen van Rensburg F and Pienaar GJ "Culture (and religion) in constitutional adjudication" 2003 (1) Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal [Found on internet] [Date of use 10 Feb 2005]

Singh et al 2002 JILT 16 Apr

Singh G, O'Donoghue J and Broome K "An empirical study in the use of IT by small and large legal firms in the UK" 2002 (1) Journal of Information, Law and Technology [Found on internet] [Date of use 16 Apr 2002]

Teshima 1997 LA Lawyer Magazine 20 Nov

Teshima D "Keeping current in electronic legal research methods: computerized research keeps advancing and changing with each year" 1997 LA Lawyer Magazine [Found on internet] [Date of use 20 Nov 2001]

Tjaden 1999 LawLink 28 Aug

Tjaden T "The digital law library: is it time to byte?" 1999 (4) LawLink [Found on internet] [Date of use 28 Aug 2002]

Underwood 4 Mar

Underwood PG "Avoiding the breakers: making the best use of the Web to ensure you have easy access to legal material" in Papers of the International Institute for Research Law Librarian Conference 20-21 November 2001 Johannesburg) [Found on internet] [Date of use 4 Mar 2002]

Paliwala 2001 JILT 9 Sep

Paliwala A "Learning in cyberspace" 2001 (3) Journal of Information, Law and Technology [Found on internet] [Date of use 9 Sep 2002]

Paliwala et al 1997 JILT 21 Oct

Paliwala A, Cartwright A and Terrett A "User needs in electronic law reporting: a research study of the law reports" 1997 (2) Journal of Information, Law and Technology [Found on internet] [Date of use 21 Oct 2001]

Pacifici 2002 20 Apr

Pacifici S 2002 Getting it right: verifying sources on the net [Found on internet] [Date of use 20 Apr 2002]

Pritchard 1998 17 Sep

Pritchard LA 1998 Intranet-powered law practice: what it will mean for lawyers and clients [Found on internet] [Date of use 17 Sep 2002]

Robinson 2000 20 Nov

Robinson CF 2000 The 21st Century law practice [Found on internet] [Date of use 20 Nov 2001]

Schweighofer 1999 JILT 19 Sep

Schweighofer E "The revolution in legal information retrieval or: the empire strikes back" 1999 (1) Journal of Informat¬ion, Law and Technology [Found on internet] [Date of use 19 Sep 2002]

Van de Vijver 2001 4 Aug

Van de Vijver L 2001 A guide to research and writing skills [Found on internet] [Date of use 4 Aug 2006]



How to Cite

du Plessis, T. (2017). Legal Research in a Changing Information Environment. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 10(1), 23–74.




Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.