FCIL-SIS Nominations Announcement

we_need_you_shutterstock_570489691The Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS) of AALL is seeking your leadership!

Nominees are now being accepted for Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of the SIS. The position of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect requires a three-year commitment, as Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Chair, and Immediate Past Chair, and will be expected to attend the AALL annual meeting the first two years.  More information is available in the FCIL-SIS Bylaws.

Please consider putting yourself or one of our outstanding colleagues forward for this important position. If nominating someone other than yourself, please communicate first with that person to ensure their interest in serving.

Nominations must be received by December 16, 2019.  Results will be announced in the spring newsletter.


Please submit your nominations and any questions to:

Gabriela Femenia, Chair, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee
Amy Flick, Member, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee
Kurt Carroll, Member, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee


We look forward to receiving your nominations, and happy holidays!

Introducing…Dennis Sears as the November 2019 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

Sears, Dennis FCIL1. Where did you grow up?

Salt Lake City, UT

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

I worked as a reference assistant during law school and my career headed that way soon after that.

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

I have always had an interest in history and the humanities, especially European.  My interest in foreign, comparative, and international law grew out of that.

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

My current employer is Brigham Young University,  I have worked there for thirty years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak German.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Teaching legal research at the Law School.  I have loved teaching first year legal research as well as advanced legal research, federal tax research, and international research.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?


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

“The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha

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

I wish I were more creative.

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

Time to ponder.  If I don’t/can’t take that time, my day just seems to fall apart.

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

I find working with people in the FCIL-SIS one of the most fulfilling parts of my profession.

Second Call for IALL 2019 Bloggers

sydneyAre you heading down under for IALL 2019 in Sydney?  We’re still looking for bloggers to recap some of the program for the blog.  We’re had a few volunteers, but are looking for a few more, particularly for the following sessions, but are happy to have coverage of any session you’re planning on attending:

Monday, October 28th
9:45-10:30am:  Keynote: Australia’s Legal History & Colonial Legacy

Tuesday, October 29th
9:30-10:15am:  Australia’s Constitutional Quirks
10:15-11:00am:  International Law in Australia

Wednesday, October 30th
9:30-10:15am:  Contemporary Challenges to Open Justice: Law, Technology, and Culture
1:45-2:30pm:  International Environmental Law in Australia
2:30-3:15pm:  Criminal Law in Australia

If you are willing and able to recap one of these sessions or any other program from IALL 2019, please email Alyson Drake at alyson.drake@ttu.edu or Jessica Pierucci at jpierucci@law.uci.edu.

Introducing…Sola Babatunde as the September 2019 FCIL Member of the Month


1. Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Nigeria where I also studied law. I later earned a LLM degree in Comparative and International Law from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

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

It was fortuitous. I had the fortune of knowing very wonderful and kind-hearted law librarians at a time when my possible career direction was in a flux. First on the list is the former library director at the Underwood Law Library, SMU, the very kind Gail M. Daly.  She was very supportive of my career. The second was Greg Ivy who succeeded her. He has always been a source of inspiration to me. And I still regard him as my informal mentor. There was also the immense support and guidance I received from Professor Yvonne Chandler. In addition to these fabulous people I received tremendous encouragement from Femi Cadmus. Allen R. Moye of DePaul Law Library graciously served as my mentor in midwifing my career as a law librarian. Mr. Moye helped me to find my feet in law librarianship. Yes, I selected law librarianship (and I am glad I did) probably because of the indirect influences of all these wonderful people who believed in me. In a sense, I am following in their footsteps. And every step of the way, it has been an exciting professional journey!

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

My view of law has always been cosmopolitan. First off, I hold a law degree from Nigeria. Nigerian law is a smorgasbord of British common law and traditional law and customs.  Second, my areas of legal specialization are: Comparative Conflict of Laws, Comparative Constitutional Laws,   Comparative Criminal Law and Procedure, and, Law of the Sea. My interest in comparative and international law is the offshoot of my legal training.

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

Liberty University School of Law. This is my seventh year at Liberty Law!

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

My native tongue is Yoruba, a language widely spoken in the southwestern part of Nigeria but the mode of instruction in schools (in Nigeria) is English.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Successfully managed my department’s transition to a new Integrated Library System (ILS).

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

I will always cherish banana split ice cream.

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

I am an acute introvert. No, I am not blessed with either the ability to dance or sing even if I wanted to. I will rather curl up in a quiet place with a nice literary work.

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

To play the keyboard.

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

Absolutely that will be coffee.

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

I hold the degree of Master of Divinity with focus on Pastoral Counseling.

July/August 2019 GlobaLex Issue Now Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

GlobaLex summer double issue – July/August 2019 – is live bringing a fantastic line-up of nine articles covering unique jurisdictions of Albania, Cambodia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Lesotho, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, and the timely topic of Global Warming. Webmasters and content managers, please update your pages. Please join me in congratulating our new and established authors who, once again, delivered incredible work!

UPDATE: Researching the Albanian Legal System by Engjellushe (Angel) Kozeli Mozina at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Albania1.html.

Engjellushe (Angel) Kozeli Mozina is an attorney at the firm of Rackemann, Sawyer and Brewster, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Suffolk University Law School. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Albanian-American Bar Association.


UPDATE: Overview of the Cambodian History, Governance and Legal Sources by Victoria Amann-Lasnier and Nicole Fleury at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Cambodia1.html.

Victoria Amann-Lasnier is a French lawyer currently working at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and a former legal intern of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She holds an LL.M. from University of Essex where she also worked as a Research Fellow in transitional justice. Her research interests include international criminal law and education in transitional justice mechanisms.

Nicole Fleury is a third-year law student and a former legal intern in the Office of the International Co-Prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She has worked with a number of organizations on legal issues related to human trafficking, refugee and immigration law, public international law, and domestic violence, and has worked in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Lebanon, and Moldova. Previous publications include an article in the Public Contract Law Journal about combating labor trafficking in the U.S. government’s supply chain. After graduating with her J.D. in May 2019, she will serve as a Judicial Law Clerk in San Francisco through the U.S. government’s Honors program.


UPDATE: Researching Japanese Law by Keiko Okuhara at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Japan1.html.

Keiko Okuhara is a librarian at the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law Library.


UPDATE: Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Web Based Resources by Anuar A. Nurakhmet at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Kazakhstan1.html.

Anuar A. Nurakhmet is alumnus of Kazakh University of Humanities and Law from Kazakhstan (2008) and holds Masters degree in International Taxation obtained at New York University School of Law (2011). Currently he is working in tax law firm in Almaty, Kazakhstan.


UPDATE: Legal System of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic by Tuchakorn Kitcharoen at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Laos1.html.

Tuchakorn Kitcharoen is a Senior Associate at ZICOlaw in Lao PDR. He holds Master of Laws in Competition, Innovation and Trade Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science in London, United Kingdom. He also holds Master of Laws in Commercial Law from the University of Bristol in Bristol, United Kingdom. Tuchakorn earned his undergraduate degree in Law from the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University in Thailand. Tuchakorn has been a lawyer since 2012 and subsequently admitted to the Bar in Thailand in 2013. He practices law in Thailand and Laos for domestic and international clients as both a litigator and a legal advisor. His practice focuses on foreign direct investment, banking and project financing, and corporate and commercial law. He worked as legal consultant for Pepsi-Cola (Thai) Trading before joining ZICOlaw in Lao PDR in 2018.


UPDATE: The Law and Legal Research in Lesotho by Itumeleng Shale at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Lesotho1.html.

Itumeleng Shale is a senior lecturer and researcher at the National University of Lesotho. She holds an L.L.B. from the National University of Lesotho and an L.L.M. in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the Centre for Human Rights University of Pretoria and a Ph.D. from the University of the Witwatersrand.


UPDATE: Taiwan Legal Research by Alex Zhang at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Taiwan1.html.

Alex Zhang is the Assistant Dean for Legal Information Services and Professor of Practice at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. Prior to W&L, Alex was the Head of Public Services and Lecturer in Law at Stanford University Law School. She received B.A. in Philosophy and a Chinese Law Certificate from Nanjing University, China and a M.A. in Philosophy from Tulane University. She attended the University of Kansas Law School earning her J.D. with a certificate in International Trade and Finance Law in 2006. She also received a M.S.I from the University of Michigan, School of Information in 2009. Alex taught Advanced Legal Research at both Stanford Law School and University of Michigan Law School.


UPDATE: Legal Research in Timor-Leste by Lindsey Greising, Nelinho Vital and Antonio Gil Lobit at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Timor_Leste1.html.

Lindsey Greising is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and a member of the New York Bar. She has worked in Timor-Leste in various roles since 2005, including work on an access to justice project for domestic violence survivors as well as providing advice to a local NGO on constitutional law, access to justice, rule of law, child rights, women’s rights, and international human rights law.

Nelinho Vital received his law degree from Indonesia in 2002 and Master of Law in 2011 from Gadjah Mada University. He currently works as the Director for the National Department on Legislation in the Ministry of Justice for Timor-Leste.

Antonio Gil Lobit is a graduate of the University of Granada Law School in Spain and a member of the Royal Council of Spanish Bars. He has worked in Timor-Leste for almost nine years for the Timorese Government. During the last five years he worked as senior legal adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation providing advise on negotiation and drafting of International Treaties and drafting and introducing to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament key pieces of legislation in several areas, including International Private and Public Law, Finances and Administration.


UPDATE: Global Warming – Researching the U.S. Approach to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol by Heidi Frostestad Kuehl at https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Climate_Change_Kyoto_Protocol1.html.

Heidi Frostestad Kuehl is the Law Library Director and Associate Professor of Law at the Northern Illinois University College of Law’s David C. Shapiro Memorial Law Library. She holds a Law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law with a specialization in International Trade and Development and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Iowa.


For additional articles, please visit https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html.

AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL Basics Bootcamp

By Dinah Minkoff

bootcamp.JPGI had the opportunity to attend the Preconference Workshop: FCIL Bootcamp: Basic Training at Georgetown University’s law school.  The morning session promised to provide information on FCIL resources and how to use them with a focus on foreign law, treaties, and EU law.  It delivered on its promise.  Georgetown Law librarians Mabel Shaw, Charles Bjok, and Heather Casey presented.

Mabel Shaw presented “An Introduction to Foreign Legal Research.”  She has been an FCIL librarian at Georgetown, where she is now the Head of International & Foreign Law, for over 18 years.  The presentation began by breaking down the different legal systems intrepid researchers will encounter: Common, Civil, Religious, Customary, and Mixed. As a researcher you need to know what type of legal system you are researching so that you understand not just where to look for information but if that information exists.  Interesting point of fact: outside of the U.S., not all government information is copyright free.  During her presentation, Mabel also allayed a common concern of the foreign legal researcher: you don’t have to speak every language you are researching. In addition to translations of legislation and law, there are myriad translation tools out there like dictionaries and Google Translate.  Use your evaluation skills to determine the reliability of the translation itself.  Look to the date of translation, the site hosting the translation, and whether it was done by a person or AI.

Heather Casey presented “An Introduction to Treaty Research.”  She has been an FCIL librarian for 10 years and teaches Research Skills in International & Comparative Law with Charles Bjork.  Heather’s presentation began by explaining the differences between private and public international law and the various documents that are referred to under the broad category of “treaties” (e.g. conventions, protocols, accords, declarations, charters, and Memorandum of Understanding).  Heather then outlined the best places to begin your research when the U.S. is a party to the treaty (Spoiler Alert: Treaties in Force, the U.S. State Department’s website, and HeinOnline).   After an overview of the treaty ratification process, it was on to researching treaties when the U.S. is not a party.  Good places to search include Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General at the UN, Regional Treaty Collections, and Foreign Ministry websites.  The presentation also reviewed important websites to keep in mind when conducting treaty research such as the EU, Council of Europe, African Union, Organization of American States, and World Trade Organization.  And because we were inside a law school, the session wrapped up with a hypothetical where participants got to put their newly honed FCIL research skills to the test.


Heather Casey presenting on how to conduct treaty research.

Finally, Charles Bjok presented on “An Introduction to Researching the Law of the European Union.” He works closely with Georgetown’s sizeable international LLM writing and research program and teaches Research Skills in International & Comparative Law with Heather Casey. This presentation had a two-fold benefit for me: it provided me a great refresher on the topic and confirmed for me that my own presentation on the topic did not have any glaring gaps.  The presentation began with an introduction to the EU, including a brief history, foundational documents, and its current incarnation. The presentation also reviewed the EU’s Seven Institutions and the hierarchy of EU law. What is fantastic about EU research is that despite the numerous institutions within the EU and its various types of law (treaties, legislative acts, and case law), EUR-Lex, the official website of the EU, is a portal to almost everything you will be looking for.  The website is updated daily, and contains some texts dating back to 1951.  The documents on EUR-Lex are freely accessible and available in the 24 official languages of the EU.  One caveat: although case law is available in on EUR-Lex, using CURIA, the CJEU’s website, may prove more beneficial.


The full slate of speakers from the full day FCIL Bootcamp.  From left to right: Heather Casey, Georgetown University Law Library; Prof. Heidi Frostestad Kuehl, Northern Illinois University School of Law; Prof. Jennifer Hillman, Georgetown University Law Center; Mabel Shaw, Georgetown University Law Library; Prof. Lilian Faulhaber, Georgetown University Law Center; and Charles Bjork, Georgetown University Law Library.  

I left the morning session happily on information overload and energized to respond to the future FCIL questions I receive in my role as Global Law Librarian at LA Law Library.  Feel free to reach out with questions about the bootcamp or foreign law generally. I can be reached at dminkoff@lalawlibrary.org.

For insights into the wonderful resources shared by the speakers, please visit https://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/home/foreign-law.

For the afternoon session of the pre-conference workshop, FCIL Bootcamp: Advanced, see this recap.

AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant Presentation – African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa

By: Loren Turner


On Monday, July 15, 2019, the 2019 FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant recipient, Mariya Badeva-Bright, who leads the AfricanLII project at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (and recently co-founded Laws.Africa, a legislative commons), delivered a fantastic presentation titled “African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa.” Mariya’s presentation was a summary of her motivations and processes for gathering and digitizing African law as well as a “call to action” to law librarians worldwide for help in making African law accessible to all.

African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa

Mariya began her presentation by stating that there is no reliable, consistent, and up-to-date access to the law in many African countries – free or not.  Mariya provided several reasons for the lack of access to legal information: indifference of commercial publishers; lack of funds and skills on the local levels; poor record keeping; and low level corruption. She argued that there can be no justice without access to legal information.  When the law is not available freely and easily, judges cannot determine precedent; rich litigants have an unfair advantage.  As support, Mariya shared visual images of legislative texts in which pages were literally cut out, edited by hand, and then reinserted.  The reality, Mariya said, is that lots of African law is in such condition and this format frustrates access to justice.

Mariya explained that the AfricanLII and the Laws.Africa projects are about building an open infrastructure of African legal information with opportunity for sophisticated searches. They have to be open to anyone and offer speed, efficiency, services, growth and development.

AfricanLII was founded in 2010 to promote the role of LIIs in Africa. It now offers a federated search of over 250k documents of African legal information. Additionally, in response to user demand, it has begun to create case indices, including the Human Rights Law Index and the Commercial Law Index. It also provides a current awareness newsletter that started out as a service for judges but has expanded to anyone interested in following legal developments in African law (subscribe at the bottom of this page). Most recently, AfricanLII launched a citator service, available in beta format. It is the first visual citator in the access to law movement, but what is more remarkable is that it creates a citator service for cases that were never published in law reports and, therefore, don’t have citations!  The AfricanLII database sees about 400,000 unique users per month, 90% of which are within Africa.  Users are primarily from the justice sector (lawyers, judges, paralegals, magistrates, law students, government workers, etc.) but there is an increase in “average joes” accessing the database.

When the AfricanLII project began, there was a conscious choice to focus on gathering and digitizing cases rather than legislation.  Cases have their own value, but outdated legislation has little value.  The creators of AfricanLII had concerns about the future credibility of their project if they uploaded outdated legislation.  Plus, the reality is that in most African countries, there is no free source of consolidated, up-to-date legislation.

The Laws.Africa project developed to address the lack of freely available access to African legislation. The creators of the Laws.Africa project surveyed other country’s attempts at making legislation current and freely accessible.  They decided that the UK’s legislation.gov.uk was the model “golden” standard outside of Africa because of its rich interface and up-to-date, authoritative corpus.  Within Africa, the “golden” standards were Kenya law, an authoritative source of Kenyan legislation, and OpenBylaws.org.za, which focuses on improving access to South African by-laws.

Laws.Africa is an open source, cloud platform for efficient cost-effective consolidation and publication of African legislation.  It aims to crowdsource an open digital archive of African gazettes and use technology (in particular, Akoma Ntoso, a non-proprietary, XML markup standard for legislative documents) to consolidate legislation. In terms of processes: once a gazette is uploaded onto the Laws.Africa platform, a group of contributors (law students and law library students) extract individual Acts and identify changes to the Act over time.  A small group of reviewers check the work of the contributors (there is a two-step review process). After review, the consolidated legislation becomes available in a variety of formats.

The Laws.Africa project has already acquired and uploaded over 13,000 national gazettes.  These gazettes are available in .pdf versions through a linked sister site called Gazettes.Africa.  But, it takes a village to make a complete collection!  Unfortunately, Mariya explained, the law of Africa is not in Africa.  Instead, many African gazettes, especially historical ones, are located in libraries outside of Africa.  To continue building the collection of African gazettes and legislation on the Laws.Africa portal, Mariya and her colleagues need law librarians and digitizers in the U.S. and U.K. to donate their African gazettes to the project.  Mariya believes that crowdsourcing these gazettes is the best way to reach the goal of a complete collection.

Mariya concluded her presentation with an appeal: Join our community! Donate your gazettes!  Spread the word about the AfricanLII and Laws.Africa projects!  She received a great round of applause.

For a video of Mariya’s FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant presentation, as given at Yale Law Library subsequent to the 2019 AALL Annual Meeting, follow this link.