Library Research Assistant (LRA) Service

Law faculty members often hire law student research assistants. From time to time, however, a member of the faculty may require research assistance for short projects that do not justify the time and expense of hiring a traditional research assistant, generally projects under 20 hours duration. In those cases, utilizing the Library Research Assistant (LRA) Service is appropriate.

The purpose of the LRA Service is to provide Bowen faculty with quality legal and interdisciplinary academic research and research support services that are directly related to teaching in the Law School, speaking engagements, and academic writing for publication. Research is completed by the LRA – an upper-level law student who has demonstrated a proficiency in legal research prior to being hired – under the supervision of the Faculty Research Support and Reference Librarian and Faculty Liaison Librarians. LRAs are trained in the use of research tools and strategies used by law librarians and perform a wide variety of tasks for the faculty using traditional and electronic resources. LRAs also gain firsthand experience in practical legal research by fielding reference questions as part of the Library’s reference desk rotation.

The LRA Service is designed to provide support for well-defined research projects and related tasks such as pulling, printing, copying, and organizing documents, cite checking, finding supporting authority for legal propositions, performing literature reviews, creating subject bibliographies, and tracking legal issues. Indeed, the Service is designed to handle a variety of research support roles, whether they require 20 minutes or up to 20 hours to complete.

If your project is one that will take more time and/or is time constrained, it may be better for you to directly hire a research assistant. Alternatively, you may be able to divide the project up into discrete units the LRA Service can handle, subject to the Service Parameters listed below.

The LRA Service is provided on a first come, first served basis. The amount of time it will take to complete a project depends on the complexity of the project and the number of other projects already underway when your request is submitted. If there is a conflict between simultaneous requests, the priority goes to the faculty member who has not previously used the Service.

Service Parameters

  • All regular, clinical, and library law faculty are eligible to submit project requests to the LRA Service, as well as current visiting and adjunct professors, deans, and administrators. Please note that faculty research assistants are not permitted to make research requests on your behalf.
  • LRAs cannot conduct research in support of the practice of law (pro bono, clinical practice, etc.) or in support of trial or appellate work, including amicus briefs.
  • The Library maintains discretion on whether or not to accept research projects and assign to the LRA.
  • If the LRA Service accepts projects that will be completed in units, requestors must agree to review and approve the work submitted for each completed unit before the LRA can begin work on the next phase of the project. This allows the LRA to address any work-product concerns early in the process so valuable time and effort is not lost.

Submitting Project Requests

There are three ways to submit a research request:

  1. Fill out the LRA Service Request Form (Please provide complete information about the project, if possible.)
  2. Call or email Jeff Woodmansee, Faculty Research Support & Reference Librarian at 501-916-5470
  3. Contact your Faculty Liaison Librarian

 Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after I submit a LRA Service request?

The Faculty Research Support & Reference Librarian will contact you for further details and will work with you to establish parameters and a timeline for completion of your research. Sometimes this process can be done over the phone or via email, other times a brief meeting will be scheduled to discuss the project more in-depth.

All accepted projects will be vetted by the supervisor before being assigned to the LRA. Once a project is accepted, the LRA will begin working directly with the requestor, obtaining further instruction and providing updates via email or scheduling meetings as necessary. As the LRA works on the project, the supervisor and other librarians are available to help the RA design a research strategy and to help identify the appropriate resources for their work.

How much of my research can the LRA Service handle?

The Service can assist with projects the supervisor estimates may require up to 20 hours of research. If you have lengthy research projects that exceed that estimate, you may contact the Faculty Research Support and Reference Librarian to discuss ways to divide the project into distinct units that the LRA Service can accommodate by completing in succession. If this is not practical, it is suggested that the requestor hire a personal research assistant for the project.

How long will it take to complete the research?

Timelines for the completion of projects will depend on the nature and complexity of your project, an estimation of the amount of time needed to complete your project, and how many other projects the Service is currently handling at the time you make your request. These concerns will be discussed before the project is accepted and requestors will be notified if issues regarding time arise during the course of the project.

Can the LRA Service handle RUSH requests?

When you have a research request for which you need a quick answer, please call or email the Faculty Research & Reference Librarian directly to confirm that the Service will be able to meet your accelerated deadline.  The Faculty Research Support and Reference Librarian will let you know whether or not your accelerated deadline can be met at the time you make a rush requests. The ability to meet rush deadlines depends on the immediate availability of the LRA, how many projects the Service is currently handling, and the other job duties the librarian is engaged in at the time you make your request.

How can I can check the status of a project or report a problem with work the LRA has completed?

You can inquire about the status of ongoing projects by contacting the Faculty Research Support and Reference Librarian or by communicating directly with the LRA performing the work. Weekly logs are kept on file by the Library to track ongoing work and the amount of time spent on each project undertaken.

I feel more comfortable submitting LRA Service requests through my Faculty Liaison Librarian – is this allowed?

Yes. Faculty Liaison Librarians assist LRAs and serve as consultants for them when needed. Your Liaison can also channel research work appropriate for the LRA Service to the Faculty Research Support and Reference Librarian to assign to the LRA or can supervise the LRA directly for specific projects.

What if need access to resources beyond the Library collection to support my research project needs?

The Faculty Research Support and Reference Librarian also manages the Library’s Interlibrary Loan Services. Contact Jeff Woodmansee for more information regarding interlibrary loan requests.