Expansive Legal Research

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This article will introduce an approach to teaching legal research called Expansive Legal Research. The Expansive Legal Research perspective is based upon dissertation research on legal information behavior at a law school legal aid clinic. This approach is inspired by an educational perspective called Expansive Learning, which in turn has roots in the psychological theory called Activity Theory. The Expansive Legal Research perspective includes elements inspired by Expansive Learning and Activity Theory such as a focus on an activity-centered context of both the individual and social aspects of human behavior; the design-oriented nature of human problem-solving; the role of tacit knowledge and unwritten rules in daily activity and practice; and a cultural historical approach to learning and development, where both the user and their tools are undergoing a constant process of growth and change and transformation. An Expansive Legal Research approach, and the theory it is based upon, may provide new insights into legal research instruction, and may be a useful tool for legal research instructors.