The development of legal capability through information use: empirical findings, along with methodological and practical challenges in a mixed methods study

Fiona Brown, Kirsty Williamson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


    Introduction. Legal capability includes knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to deal effectively with the law. Paper explores whether legal information use can develop legal capability of legal self-helpers, using concepts emerging from Kuhlthau’s research and the dialogic approach, mixed methods lite, while considering theoretical and practical challenges.
    Method. Within an interpretivist/constructivist framework, an online questionnaire collected quantitative and qualitative data from 90 legal self-helpers. Sixteen semi-structured interviews collected qualitative data from a purposive sample selected from questionnaire respondents.
    Analysis. Quantitative data were analysed in Survey Monkey. Qualitative survey data were analysed with the interview data, using constructivist grounded analysis techniques to identify codes and themes, and undertake within-case and cross-case analysis, assisted by NVivo software.
    Findings. Sixty percent found the information easy to understand, flagging a problem with content. Only six interviewees were satisfied with their information. Most pointed to inadequacies: of detail to enable decision making, a clear process to follow, and content to address fears and stress, and to develop confidence.
    Conclusion. Presently, legal information is of limited assistance to legal self-helpers. Information use research, using mixed methods lite, proved effective for evaluating development of legal capability. Power of social media, in meeting challenges of attracting research participants, was notable.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of ISIC: The Information Behaviour Conference
    Subtitle of host publicationKrakow, Poland, 9-11 October, 2018: Part 1
    EditorsRemigiusz Sapa
    Place of PublicationBoras Sweden
    PublisherUniversity of Boras
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
    EventISIC - The Information Behaviour Conference 2018 - Krakow, Poland
    Duration: 9 Oct 201811 Oct 2018

    Publication series

    NameInformation Research
    PublisherUniversity of Boras
    ISSN (Electronic)1368-1613


    ConferenceISIC - The Information Behaviour Conference 2018
    Abbreviated titleISIC 2018
    Internet address

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