Information-seeking behavior of law practitioners: a survey of Bahawalpur City.

Author:Khan, Shakeel Ahmad


The concept of life is vague without information. Information has enabled a man to perform his routine activities in an efficient way. For decision-making, we need the support of information (Kumar, 2004). Modern society depends on information for all its activities. Every person has the need for information. Without valid and up-to-date information, it is impossible to do progress in any field of life (Bajpai, 1999). Understanding of information needs and information-seeking behavior of various professional groups is essential as it helps in the planning, implementation and operation of information system and services in the given work settings (Devadason & Lingam, 1997). Legal information is basic to all, both lawyers and non-lawyers. The law is supposed to be understood and used by each and every citizen (Otike, 1997). Lawyers are individuals who have a wide range of responsibilities and duties when it comes to their profession. Their role in society is even more important as they are acting as a voice for others (Exforsys, 2010). In today's world, legal issues spring up almost always on a regular basis. Most probably, one does not have the time to handle all of them. Having a lawyer to take care of one's legal affair is very much required and it is one sure way to get free from unnecessary headaches (Hood, 2006). Lawyers are the protectors of the people. They play a very important role in maintaining order in one place. In addition, a number of positions in the government are being held by lawyers. Thus, they contribute in providing and regulating peace in the community (Buzzle, 2010).

Research Methodology and Data Collection Approach

Survey of the lawyer's community at District Bar Council, Bahawalpur was conducted by the researcher and data were collected with the help of a structured, peer-reviewed and pilot-tested questionnaire. Seventy questionnaires were distributed among the lawyers for data collection and 54 questionnaires were filled out by the lawyers. The response rate was 77%. Due to the busy schedule of the lawyers, the researcher faced difficulty in data collection. The collected data were analyzed through SPSS software version 14.

The main objectives of the study were to investigate:

  1. For what purpose, lawyers search for information?

  2. What are the information seeking habits of lawyers?

  3. From where do they generally get information resources?

  4. What do they do in case of urgent need of information?

  5. What is the impact of ICT on information seeking behavior of the lawyers?

Important Research Questions

* What are the actual information needs of the lawyers community?

* What kind of information is sought by them?

* What methods are used for seeking information?

* What is the users' response towards new information and communication technologies?

* What is the current state of provision of various kinds of library services? And is that well responsive to the changing needs of its lawyers community?

* What are the problems of seeking information and how it can be solved?

* What are types of reading material available in the library and does it satisfy its community's needs effectively?

* What is users' information sources preference and do the library staff familiar with it?

* What are the study places preferences by them?

* What kinds of difficulties faced by lawyers in the process of seeking information (print and non-print)?

Review of the Studies on Information Seeking Behavior of Lawyers

There are several studies conducted at international level to examine the information needs and information seeking behavior of lawyers. This section will briefly review the studies on information seeking behavior of lawyers for gaining a better understanding of lawyers' information seeking behavior.

Kuhlthau & Tama (2001) explored the information search process of lawyers. Findings revealed that these lawyers frequently were involved in complex tasks and to accomplish these complex tasks, they preferred printed texts over computer databases primarily because computer databases required well-specified requests and did not offer an option for examining a wide range of information at one time.

Makri (2009) in his doctoral thesis studied lawyer's information behavior leading to the development of two methods for evaluating electronic resources. Overall, findings were positive regarding both methods and useful suggestions for improving the methods were made.

Otike (2000) explored the legal information needs of lawyers in Kenya. It was noted that a lawyer's work is determined by the legal needs of the clients, which, in turn, influences the information needs of the lawyer. The lawyers seek assistance from the High Court library or collections in other law firms.

Hinson et. al (2007) pointed out that seventy-eight percent of the lawyers were found agreed that the internet improves their productivity. Eighty-eight per cent of respondents indicated that the internet is useful as a communication tool, whilst 76 percent of the respondents considered the internet to be very important for getting information.

Otike (1997) in his study investigated the legal information needs of the general public. He concluded that the provision of legal information to the public in the Third World still remains largely unresearched. Until extensive empirical research is conducted in this vast area, information professionals will continue to rely heavily on simple hypotheses.

In (2002) he searched out the information needs and seeking habits of lawyers in England in the United Kingdom. The purpose of the study was to ascertain the type of information lawyers require to meet their needs and to determine the factors that...

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