Making the law accessible to non-lawyers: effects of different kinds of expertise on perceived usability of online legal information services

David Newman, Ursula Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To help design an environment in which professionals without legal training can make effective use of public sector legal information on planning and the environment - for Add-Wijzer, a European e-government project - we evaluated their perceptions of usefulness and usability. In concurrent think-aloud usability tests, lawyers and non-lawyers carried out information retrieval tasks on a range of online legal databases. We found that non-lawyers reported twice as many difficulties as those with legal training (p = 0.001), that the number of difficulties and the choice of database affected successful completion, and that the non-lawyers had surprisingly few problems understanding legal terminology. Instead, they had more problems understanding the syntactical structure of legal documents and collections. The results support the constraint attunement hypothesis (CAH) of the effects of expertise on information retrieval, with implications for the design of systems to support the effective understanding and use of information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-437
Number of pages15
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Volume27(5)
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics

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