A contextual study of the information literacy of aspirant barristers in Nigeria.
Lawal, Victoria Ladi.
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This study investigated the information literacy of aspirant barristers in Nigeria and examined the steps undertaken to restructure the legal education system in Nigeria. It explored the connection between contextual influences and professional development, particularly with respect to the concept of legal information literacy and the value of acquired educational skills in the context of legal practice in Nigeria. The theoretical framework that underpinned the study was derived from the application of Kuhlthau’s (1993) Information Search Process (ISP) and Byström’s (1999) theory of Information Activity in Work. Kuhlthau’s model was relevant for investigating issues of uncertainty in the information seeking behaviour of the aspirant barristers and further confirmed the empirical validity of the model in the educational and workplace contexts. Byström’s theory was also valuable in analysing problems of task complexity experienced by the aspirant barristers in information use. The study employed a case study method; the data collection process involved the administration of questionnaires to the aspirant barristers and law firms to which they were assigned for vocational training. A mixed method approach was used to provide complementary insights to the findings of the study. Key findings from the study were supportive of the importance of information literacy as being central to the development of professional competence of the aspirant barristers which can be achieved through re-structuring the teaching methods and curricula of the Nigerian Law School. Outcomes from the study also pointed to a need for greater collaboration between the legal education system and the legal profession in narrowing the gap between the teaching and practice of law in Nigeria. Collaboration with academic librarians and legal information specialists is also necessary with respect to the role that these two groups can play in the design and implementation of an information literacy framework for the legal education system in Nigeria. The study makes recommendations for the adoption and integration of information literacy as a conceptual framework into the curriculum of the Nigerian Law School. In this way skills training can be enhanced. The information literacy model, designed as part of the recommendations from this study, provides guidelines for the various processes by which a teaching model that is unique to the context of the legal education system in Nigeria can be developed, tested and implemented.
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