This is the sixth and final post 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.
My final post in this series reflects on this past year and shares some general FCIL background sources that I found particularly helpful for familiarizing myself with the universe of resources available for FCIL-focused researchers.
First, some reflection. One aspect librarianship that drew me to this profession is the requirement to always be curious. I feel fortunate that in the past year I’ve had the opportunity to indulge my curiosity in foreign and international legal resources. I’ve tried to absorb as much as possible from each opportunity I’ve had to engage in FCIL research topics. There’s no substitute for practice, and I can really see how my ability to more quickly hone in on the best ways to tackle certain FCIL research problems has developed over the course of the year in particular when assisting law school faculty with their research needs. As we all experience, there are never enough hours in the day to do it all, so there’s still so much more I want to learn that I just haven’t been able to fit in between all my other responsibilities outside of FCIL-focused work, but I look forward to continuing to be curious and always learning in the years ahead.
In addition, as I head into my second school year in this position, I’m excited to do some things a second time with the opportunity to incorporate knowledge gained from experience. For example, I can share what I learned from attending the Jessup Moot Court finals at the conclusion of the ASIL Annual Meeting with the UCI Law Jessup team to guide their research process. I look forward to sharing additional international legal research ideas I’ve picked up throughout the year with the team as well.
FCIL Background Resources
Second, the list. I hope this list will provide a beginning checklist for anyone looking to increase their familiarity with FCIL research or considering becoming an FCIL librarian. I would also encourage comments on this post from anyone who has additional resources to share. As is the nature of research, these resources point to tons of other helpful resources, so this is only the tip of the iceberg.
FCIL research books published since 2011 provide innumerable valuable research tips and resources to consider. Each book has its own approach and has added to my conception of FCIL research in different ways as I’ve perused different chapters and books while working on various projects. If you plan to teach an FCIL research course you can consider using one of these books, although you can also teach without a textbook.
- Marci B. Hoffman & Robert C. Berring, Jr., International Legal Research in a Nutshell (2d ed. 2017).
- Marci Hoffman & Mary Rumsey, International and Foreign Legal Research: A Coursebook (2d ed. 2012).
- Paul Lomio, Henrik Spang-Hanssen, & George D. Wilson, Legal Research Methods in a Modern World: A Coursebook (3d ed. 2011).
- Heidi Frostestad Kuehl & Megan A. O’Brien, International Legal Research in a Global Community (2018).
- Anthony S. Winer, Mary Ann E. Archer, & Lyonette Louis-Jacques, International Law Legal Research (2013).
Learn more about many of these textbooks from DipLawMatic Dialogues:
- AALL 2018 Recap: FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research Interest Group
- Teaching FCIL Research Series: Textual Selection
The AALL/Oceana Institute publications, while from the 1990s, provide valuable background information. These books were the result of an initiative to train future FCIL librarians.
- Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems (Richard A. Danner & Marie-Louise H. Bernal eds., 1994).
- Introduction to Transnational Legal Transactions (Marylin J. Raisch & Roberta I. Shaffer eds., 1995).
- Introduction to International Organizations (Lyonette Louis-Jacques & Jeanne S. Korman eds., 1996).
- Introduction to International Business Law: Legal Transactions in a Global Economy (Gitelle Seer & Maria I. Smolka-Day eds., 1996).
- Contemporary Practice of Public International Law (Ellen G. Schaffer & Randall J. Snyder eds., 1997).
The FCIL-SIS Education Committee created a fantastic list: Articles Considering a Career in FCIL Law Librarianship. And many of these articles include further awesome lists and helpful footnotes themselves.
Subscribing to alerts for each of these publications allows me to review the table of contents for each issue and pick out articles to read and others to save for future reference as needed.
- American Society of International Law (ASIL) publications
- International Journal of Legal Information (IJLI)
- Law Library Journal: This AALL publication also includes non-FCIL articles, but fantastic FCIL-focused articles appear regularly.
Core Groups/Lists to Join
After attending a few conferences throughout the past year, I’ve been able to put faces to names for many of my FCIL-focused colleagues who share valuable resources and information with one another through the digital forums created by the lists associated with these groups.
- American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), Foreign, Comparative & International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS)
- International Association of Law Libraries (IALL)
- American Society of International Law (ASIL)
Also look for specialized groups of potential interest, such as Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL).
While I’m sure much of the list above is old hat to my FCIL colleagues who have been doing this wonderful work for some time and many of them have authored or spearheaded the publications and organizations listed, I hope listing this information all in one place on DipLawMatic Dialogues will help my future colleagues find starting points for entering this exciting world of FCIL librarianship. I’ve truly enjoyed my first year as an FCIL librarian and hope these posts have inspired others to consider pursing this path with their library careers too.