Assessment of Legal Information Needs and Access Problems of Lawyers in Uganda

By Tuhumwire, Innocent; Okello-Obura, C. | Library Philosophy and Practice, June 2010 | Go to article overview

Assessment of Legal Information Needs and Access Problems of Lawyers in Uganda


Tuhumwire, Innocent, Okello-Obura, C., Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

Unresolved legal problems can entrench disadvantage and increase social exclusion unless legal assistance is made available to members of the community (McClelland, 2009). "As a lawyer, and even more so as a local member, I have met a number of people who have been unable to address a small legal problem before it escalates. Often this is because they don't know what to do or where to go", (McClelland, 2009) asserts. Legal information is considered one of the essential ingredients for effective justice to be done in any democratic society. In our day-to-day life, legal issues have become part and partial of our environment. The ever-increasing number of legal cases in the country has enormously led to petitions in court by various people with hope that they will be backed up by lawyers. However, it is worth noting that timely access to the right kind of legal information determines the performance of any legal officer in any judicial process. It is on that basis that this paper examines the legal information seeking behavior of the legal practitioners, the lawyers in Uganda.

Conceptual Background

A lawyer is a person learned in the law as an attorney, counsel or solicitor, a person licensed to practice law. Working as a lawyer represents the practical application of legal theory and knowledge to solve real problems or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e. hire) lawyers for legal services. The role of a lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions and therefore can be treated here in only the most general terms (Blacks Law Dictionary, 2004). Generally as noted by Fowler (2007), Lawyers work primarily in the legal culture, with its extensive rules and procedures requiring the right kind of legal information. Lawyers operate in information intensive environment. Everything they do, whether providing legal advice, representing a client in court, or drafting a legal document requires information (Otike and Mathews, 2000).

According to Ademola (1994), the legal profession is a highly book reading profession. The importance of information to a lawyer is reiterated by Bello (1994). He argues that books are the tools of trade of the legal profession. Thus, of all the professions, law has the largest collection of books because a well-stocked reference law library is important to a lawyer, as well as to the judge in administration of justice. A lawyer will always make a poor submission if he does not refer to legal authorities, and a judgment will not be as rich without referring to previously decided cases as authorities. Makri (2008) observes that Law is a highly knowledge-intensive domain and obtaining accurate and up-to-date legal information can mean the difference between winning or losing cases.

Legal information is therefore paramount to the success of the judicial system. Okello-Obura, (1998) defines legal information as the requirement or right established by law, which resides in all electronics and written records. The history of legal information or literacy in Uganda can be traced right from the colonial days when Uganda was under the imperial rule of Britain. Britain issued four African orders in council for most of her African protectorates in 1894. These orders in council established a system of governance that among other things established a legal system. In Uganda the major order in council was the 1902 one which introduced a dual legal system. This system, as Harvey (1975) states, allowed the native institutions based on customary law to exist only with the colonial legal system only if the customs were not repugnant to justice and morality or inconsistent with any order in council ordinance. Since then, legal information has continued to be produced by academicians, lawmakers and government, calling for an analysis of its usage by the consumers.

The Issue at Hand

Many practicing lawyers fail to articulate cases and provide proper back up to their clients in the courts of laws which compels one to ask whether it is lack of competence or lack of reliable legal information. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Assessment of Legal Information Needs and Access Problems of Lawyers in Uganda
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.