Introducing…Jennifer Allison as the February 2019 FCIL Member of the Month

Jennifer Allison

1. Where did you grow up?

San Diego, California.  (I know, why did I ever leave?)

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

When I was in law school (at Pepperdine Law) I decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but I really liked working in the law library.  By the time I was a 3L, I was doing regular shifts on the reference desk (the library was experiencing a bit of a staffing shortage at the time).  That sold me on the whole idea.  I haven’t regretted a day of it.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I took courses in comparative law and transnational litigation in law school and found them both interesting.  I was also an exchange student in Germany during my 2L year and, based on the classes I took while I was there, decided that the I wanted a job in which I could also learn more about the law and civil law systems in scholarly and historical contexts.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have  you worked there?

I am one of two FCIL librarians at the Harvard Law School Library.  I have been here for 6 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak German fluently.  I can read some French, Spanish, and Italian, just like many of the rest of us, as well.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I hope it’s okay that I list a few things.

Getting my job here at Harvard was a pretty major deal for me.  I didn’t have a ton of FCIL experience at the time, so I feel like they took a chance on me.  I hope they think it’s paid off!

I am proud of every law student and professor whom I have supported, taught, and cheered on in the 10+ years I have been doing this work, and the scholarship that they have produced – especially those who, as non-native English speakers, were required to research and write in English.

As far as my own scholarship, I am proud of the work I have done as an assistant editor of the Foreign Law Guide, and editing the country entries for Germany and Austria.

And, although this is more an academic than professional , I also completed an LLM in German Law at the University of Würzburg earlier this year, which I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to accomplish.  Writing a thesis about constitutional law in German was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

However, what I am most proud of is the network of colleagues and friends that I have been able to build during my years in the profession.  I have been the fortunate beneficiary of mentorship and friendship of so many FCIL librarians over the years (thinking especially of Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, and Lyonette Louis-Jacques, among many, many others), whose belief and confidence in me has inspired me to want to strive to do my very best at work every day.  Joining and contributing to this community of colleagues has been my most significant professional accomplishment by far.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Goldfish crackers and a glass of Montepulciano red wine.  (I know, classy.)

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

So many!  Recently, it’s probably “Love my Life” by Robbie Williams.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

Don’t we all say that we wish we spoke/read ______ fluently?  For me that would be Italian, so that I could read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitian quartet in the original.  I also wish I could draw.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?

My earbuds and my Fitbit.  (Sorry, that’s two.)

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

Never let anyone tell you that libraries and librarians don’t matter.  The contribution we make to our respective workplaces cannot be understated.  Keep on being your incredible selves and doing your amazing work.

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