AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / November/December 2019 / Volume 24, No. 2

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

Issue link: https://epubs.aallnet.org/i/1178310

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 44 of 55

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019 | AALL SPECTRUM 43 Maryland, and George Washington University, the librarians have orga- nized panels featuring recent graduates, alumni working in law firms, and law firm library directors or researchers who offer practice-oriented guidance. Law firm library directors may review the types of legal or general research expected from new associates, along with outlining some of the specialty tools or offerings available. Some sam- ple discussion points include: 3 Are there research skills that new associates wish they'd acquired in law school? 3 What role do information profession- als play in your practice? 3 What is one piece of non-obvious advice you would give to law students about research? 3 What is a common mistake seen in new associates? 3 How do associates distinguish themselves? Making a Change In March 2018, a lively and productive small group discussion on this topic occurred between the first-year legal instruction team at Georgetown and some DC-area law firm librarians. The three firm librarians in attendance represented diverse firms, including a one-office firm, a one-practice inter- national firm, and a global giant. This helped facilitate discussion that included a wide range of opinions and experi- ences. The firm librarians agreed that students tend to lack a fundamental understanding of administrative and regulatory law, as well as legislative history. Students have also faced the wrath of a partner for failing to consult a secondary source before tackling case law research, or for running up a huge Lexis or Westlaw bill unexpectedly. The importance of sound judgment—both in analyzing legal materials and in navi- gating relationships with grace—cannot be overstated. Soft skills, which are dominating discussions and literature across pro- fessions, were featured prominently in those conversations as well. Students who may otherwise be productive sum- mer associates are at risk of not being hired if they fail to navigate the office wisely. As valued members of the team, support staff may be consulted during the hiring process and summer associ- ates may put their hiring prospects in jeopardy by failing to appreciate the weight of these informal references. Alternatively, making the value offered by law firm librarians clear to students on the academic side can dovetail seam- lessly with the law firm library branding in practice—whether it's helping to track down a document or untangle a potentially harmful billing debacle. Creating an Initiative Thanks to the initiative and continued interest of the attendees, an August 2018 brown-bag lunch was scheduled to discuss how to better prepare stu- dents for practice, and was extended to the full LLSDC membership. The discussion was advertised as an infor- mal opportunity to bring librarians together across sectors to describe what has worked for them, gaps they've identified, and trends that should be anticipated as we teach the next gen- eration of legal researchers. Librarians shared examples of their new hire training materials, including binders Accordingly, an ongoing (and much needed) discussion about "bridging all the gaps" in legal research instruction and real-world practice is taking place, and it has brought together a diverse group of information professionals. The LLSDC has expanded this exchange— which sprang from a discussion between the first-year legal instruction team at Georgetown and some DC-area law firm librarians in 2018—by conducting meetings and joint programs that were made available to the entire LLSDC membership. Bridging the Gap Numerous strategies, programs, and pilots have been developed in law school libraries across the country to help law students distinguish them- selves over the course of their summer associate or new associate terms. Law librarians are eager to leverage man- datory face-time with law students in order to arm them with the skills they will be expected to apply as soon as they leave the academic sphere. Many law libraries have developed targeted programming specifically designed to meet this demand. These sessions are often marketed as "bridging the gap" or "preparing to practice" sessions and are scheduled predictably toward the end of the spring semester. Identifying the elusive window when students are available for this type of programming remains a challenge for many libraries. In an effort to encourage attendance, certificate programs that integrate ven- dor swag, food, and prizes, have been offered across institutions. These ses- sions may be included in the required first-year legal research instruction program, but upper-level students may benefit from optional refreshers open to all students. Ideally, the sessions repack- age what students have learned in first-year legal research, but often they include an emphasis on, or introduction to, more specialized resources students can expect to see in practice that may not have been covered in their required first-year legal research instruction course (e.g., litigation analytics). In some DC-area schools, such as Howard University, the University of The firm librarians agreed that students tend to lack a fundamental understanding of administrative and regulatory law, as well as legislative history. Students have also faced the wrath of a partner for failing to consult a secondary source before tackling case law research, or for running up a huge Lexis or Westlaw bill unexpectedly. Image © iStockPhoto.com/Utah778

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of AALL Spectrum - AALL Spectrum / November/December 2019 / Volume 24, No. 2