This is the fourth in a series of posts documenting my first year as a foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) librarian. I started in this newly-created role at the UCI Law Library in July 2017. The aim of this series is to document my year in the hope of inspiring aspiring FCIL librarians to join the field (and hopefully not scaring them away!) by discussing one librarian’s experience entering the field.
[Note: some of the links below open videos]
At the beginning of April, I attended, for the first time, the ASIL Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The conference happened to fall right at the peak of the cherry blossom bloom, so the scenery was amazing. But what I enjoyed most were the substance of the conference and the opportunities to connect with fellow FCIL librarians.
The substantive sessions are 1.5-hour panels with four to six presenters . I appreciated the diversity of experience on each panel. For example, the panel, The 2018 Global Compact on Refugees: International Law in the Making?, included law professors from the United States and Canada, a political science professor, the president of HIAS, and an officer from the UNHCR. Each presenter was in some meaningful way connected to changes in international refugee laws and brought their unique perspective to a well-rounded discussion of the theory and application of the law.
I attended other similar panels on such varied topics as IUU fishing, peacekeeping, and trade, but also sat in for two panels related to international law education. Teaching International Law in an Age of Global Retreat from International Agreements brought together doctrinal and clinical professors who provided valuable insight on trends in international legal education and how they modify their courses to fit with the needs and curiosities of students. Legal Education and Professional Training in the Culture(s) of International Law had a particular focus on LL.M. students and other international students studying at law schools in the United States.
The keynote speakers provided powerful contributions to the conference’s overarching theme: International Law in Practice. One speaker, Sir Christopher Greenwood, gave an engaging talk discussing the challenges arising from the divide between international scholarship and practice, concerns about specialists in specific fields of international law working in isolation, and ways to inspire trust in international law.
If any of this piques your interest, you can watch videos of selected presentations now, and audio of others should be available soon. You’re sure to learn something new about international law from judges, practitioners, academics, representatives of IGOs and NGOs, and other experts in the field.
At the conference, I met and reconnected with a number of FCIL librarians, including quite a few who are also in their first few years in the field. I learned more about the International Legal Research Interest Group (ILRIG) by attending the group’s meeting. I attended the librarian dinner, a conference tradition, organized this year by incoming AALL FCIL-SIS Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Loren Turner. At the dinner, I learned about other librarians’ FCIL initiatives and projects at their institutions. At the ILRIG meeting and a subsequent breakfast, I learned details about the resurgence of EISIL and I look forward to serving as one of the editors as it migrates to a new platform on the ASIL website this year.
Now that I’ve attended a few conferences as a librarian, I’m starting to see some more familiar faces, although, there are still plenty of people I have yet to meet. FCIL librarians are a friendly bunch and it’s great to know I’m starting to develop a small network of colleagues I can call on if needed.
I definitely plan to attend the ASIL Annual Meeting in future years, and would encourage new FCIL librarians to put this high on their priority list. The exposure to high-level discussions on international law topics by so many experts in the field all in one place is unparalleled. The conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues, and its regular location of Washington, D.C. means a chance to visit such historic buildings as the Supreme Court of the United States and Library of Congress, which is an added bonus.