Electronic Research and Reference Materials

Electronic Research and Reference Materials

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Paralegals are individuals who are qualified by education and training and are normally employed and retrained by lawyers or law offices with the responsibility of performing special duties for which the lawyer is responsible for(Petty et al, 2014). Paralegals have ethical responsibility to conduct competent electronic research.

Paralegals should know where to draw the line in times whereby they are lobbing confidential information concerning a client over the internet or wandering through chat rooms and online discussion lists (Merriam &Tisdell, 2015). Such task is a daunting one since these same tools can also provide smooth new ways that can be against ethics rules. The rules hold lawyers responsible about the conduct of their employees.

The course of action that the paralegals should take is to follow the rules whenever they are faced with ethical dilemmas. They should understand the electronic information rules that govern them in their respective jurisdictions.

An inept electronic research practice is the research done in an unprofessional way and it is clumsy. The research has various consequences. It can damage the reputation of the law firm whose paralegals have conducted the research (Robson & McCartan, 2016). The consequence will come as a result of the realization that the research had been carried out inappropriately. This can lead to legal action against the firm, loss of clients and its reputation being discredited.

When an inept electronic research has been conducted, it can lead to the firm in concerned losing a lawsuit. The consequence will come due to the fact that the firm is going to lack factual information when defending its stand in a litigation process(Merriam &Tisdell, 2015). This will come along with loss of time, energy and finances that was used in the research and additionally in the preparation and progress of the litigation process.

Reference materials are information sources that have been peer reviewed and are taken as acceptable for information to be derived from them(Petty et al, 2014). Reference materials can be traditional such as State and Federal Reporters, West’s Encyclopedia or can be electronic resources which are taken to be modern.

Traditional materials can be as current as electronic resources as long as they are updated regularly. As events unfold, these materials should be updated so that they can also carry information that is current.

The first advantage of traditional reference materials is that the information that they contain cannot be manipulated easily unlike electronic resources. Mostly information in the traditional resources is printed in booklets which have first been peer reviewed and prior to their publishing.

The second advantage of tradition reference materials is that there is flexibility while using them. The materials in most times are in forms of booklets. When a user purchases the booklet he can carry it and refer information from it almost everywhere (Robson & McCartan, 2016). On the other hand, for one to access electronic materials, he must have electronic gadgets such as computers and must be in a place where there is electricity supply.

However, the traditional reference materials also have some disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that the booklets containing them are in most cases expensive and not everyone can afford them(Robson & McCartan, 2016). This is not the case for electronic materials which can be accessed as long as a user has access to internet connectivity.

The second disadvantage is that one reference material can only be accessed only one user at any given time(Petty et al, 2014). This is not the case with electronic resources whereby one reference material can be accessed by more than one user provided they have internet connectivity.


Electronic research is important since it is instantaneous and can yield much information. However, electronic research should carried with caution and in a way to ensure that it has not been carried out in a clumsy way. Traditional reference materials can contain current information as long as they are updated regularly. The traditional reference materials have various advantages and disadvantages. Firms should use the materials that suit them according to their resources and the information that they require.


Merriam, S. B., &Tisdell, E. J. (2015).Qualitative research.A guide to design and implementation.John Wiley & Sons.

Petty, R., Ostrom, T. M., & Brock, T. C. (2014).Cognitive responses in persuasion.Psychology Press.

Robson, C., & McCartan, K. (2016).Real world research.John Wiley & Sons.