Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
bdm261
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:19 am

Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby bdm261 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:11 pm

I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13913
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:15 pm

I think it's fine for looking up a plain-language explanation of legal terms, especially quickly in class. Obviously it's not something you should be citing, ever. But by putting it in plain language, it may be oversimplified or missing something, or just interpreted differently than your professor interprets it. For exams you want to depend more on your actual notes, outlines, and published supplements like E&E or Glannon.

User avatar
JuTMSY4
Posts: 265
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:40 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby JuTMSY4 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:16 pm

bdm261 wrote:I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?


you're going to get a mixed bag of responses (and hilarity) here. Frankly, it doesn't matter who frowns upon what. If wikipedia gets your through a cold call that's great. Not ideal for exams, but a law school's defacto wikipedia is hand-me-down outlines and if you think about it, it's not all that different.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:37 pm

Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

User avatar
unlicensedpotato
Posts: 412
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:16 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:45 pm

bdm261 wrote:I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?


Wikipedia is great. You can't cite to it, as was mentioned earlier. But other than that, it's very reliable. One of our professors would routinely ask questions about definitions and historical events based on the reading and the answers he gave were what he had found on wikipedia.
Looking beyond law school, tons of research at firms is done on google, wikipedia, etc. Use common sense and look elsewhere for confirmation but wikipedia is a great starting point.

utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:06 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
bdm261 wrote:I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?


Wikipedia is great. You can't cite to it, as was mentioned earlier. But other than that, it's very reliable. One of our professors would routinely ask questions about definitions and historical events based on the reading and the answers he gave were what he had found on wikipedia.
Looking beyond law school, tons of research at firms is done on google, wikipedia, etc. Use common sense and look elsewhere for confirmation but wikipedia is a great starting point.

mr.hands
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:23 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby mr.hands » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:28 pm

Everything that has already been said is correct. It's all you need to know.

Don't cite it. It's a good personal reference tool/background

User avatar
Nightrunner
Posts: 5345
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 1:14 am

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby Nightrunner » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:30 pm

AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15464
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:37 pm

Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

+1.

User avatar
ScottRiqui
Posts: 3640
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:09 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby ScottRiqui » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:40 pm

Obviously, if you're ever tempted to cite Wikipedia, don't. But there's nothing keeping you from reading the works/articles cited in the Wiki page and citing those yourself if they're appropriate.

PRgradBYU
Posts: 1419
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:04 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby PRgradBYU » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:12 am

ScottRiqui wrote:Obviously, if you're ever tempted to cite Wikipedia, don't. But there's nothing keeping you from reading the works/articles cited in the Wiki page and citing those yourself if they're appropriate.


Story of my UG career right there.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:05 am

ScottRiqui wrote:Obviously, if you're ever tempted to cite Wikipedia, don't. But there's nothing keeping you from reading the works/articles cited in the Wiki page and citing those yourself if they're appropriate.


Although I got cutesy on a seminar paper last year and cited Wikipedia in a footnote . . . with a citing parenthetical to a real source which I then discussed. It didn't hurt my grade.

User avatar
Clearly
Posts: 4165
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:09 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby Clearly » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:17 am

The trick is to use the references used BY wikipedia.

User avatar
hephaestus
Posts: 2385
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:21 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby hephaestus » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:59 am

Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

This is the truth. It's useless for most other classes though.

User avatar
Devlin
Posts: 528
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:34 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby Devlin » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:31 am

rinkrat19 wrote:I think it's fine for looking up a plain-language explanation of legal terms, especially quickly in class. Obviously it's not something you should be citing, ever. But by putting it in plain language, it may be oversimplified or missing something, or just interpreted differently than your professor interprets it. For exams you want to depend more on your actual notes, outlines, and published supplements like E&E or Glannon.


Spot on.

No shame in using wiki or casebriefs.com throughout the semester. Hell, most of the time I would just copy and paste casebriefs.com and use that as a case brief. However, they should not replace reading the actual case book, taking excellent notes, reading supplements and doing practice exams.

ash0117
Posts: 246
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:10 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby ash0117 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:32 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

+1.


THIS.

User avatar
Bronck
Posts: 2025
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:28 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby Bronck » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:58 pm

ash0117 wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

+1.


THIS.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:21 am

Wikipedia? Pfft, I use google to look up confusing legal questions I have. Amazingly, it works.

Wikipedia is pretty good too. Just don't actually cite to it in your writing. Professors will lose their shit.

User avatar
DocHawkeye
Posts: 640
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:22 am

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Postby DocHawkeye » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:29 am

Before law school, I taught at a community college. My course "The History of American Popular Music" might as well have been "What Wikipedia Says You Should Know About Rock and Roll." Wikipedia is like masturbation - everybody does it, nobody admits it, and its embarrassing as hell if you get caught so just be sure to clean up after yourself.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests