Introducing…Melissa Hyland as the July 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

Atlas Lighting

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in South Florida, but I moved to North Carolina for college and ended up staying! I really love that you can visit both the mountains and the beach, but never actually have to leave your home state.

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

While I was in law school, the law librarians really mentored me. I worked as a reference desk assistant during my 2L and 3L years, and I was fascinated by the types of services provided by the law librarians. I just knew it was the type of work that I would enjoy doing. After law school, I practiced litigation for a couple years, but I always kept in the back of my mind the thought that law librarianship was an awesome option. When the opportunity to return to UNC to get my MSLS and work as a graduate assistant popped up, I jumped on it!

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

I developed an interest in FCIL research pretty early into my MSLS program. Once I started full-time as a reference librarian, I volunteered for every FCIL-related opportunity that came up and started to develop my skills in this area. I really enjoy the challenge of FCIL research, but I also love that you get to learn about the countries, their histories, and a bit of their culture, through FCIL research.

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

I currently work as the Reference and Faculty Research Services Librarian at the University of North Carolina School of Law. I’ve been in this position for 3 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I’m working on improving my Spanish language skills. I’m much better at reading in Spanish than I am at speaking, so I’ve been trying to find more ways to practice my communication skills with friends and language partners. I also have this mini-goal in mind to study Japanese – mostly because I love the culture and hope to visit there one day soon.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I manage our law library’s Faculty Research Service program, and I’ve tried to be very intentional about building relationships with our faculty and ensuring that we provide them with stellar work product. I’m so pleased with the growth of the program over the past three years, and I’ve also loved getting to know our law faculty better through it.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Chocolate chip cookies! I will order a chocolate chip cookie whenever it is on the menu, even at a fancy bakery. I’m probably missing out on lots of other amazing baking creations, but you just can’t go wrong with a good ol’ chocolate chipper.

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

My nerdiness is going to be so obvious here, but I love Disney movie soundtracks. Maybe I can blame this on growing up in Florida and spending a good part of my childhood at Disney World. I can go toe-to-toe on song lyrics with the best of Disney fans – but I find myself singing “I’ve Got a Dream” from Tangled a lot lately.

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

I think many people on this blog talk about improving their language skills. I agree – I’d love to improve what little skill I currently have, and I’d like to study new languages.

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

Books! It’s a good thing that I work in a university law library, because I have a library card that allows me to get my hands on so many out of print and older titles. It’s amazing.

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

I’m excited to be here!

Introducing…Sabrina Sondhi as the June 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

Sondhi photo 2019

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born in the Midwest, but we moved to Southern California when I was nine.  I was so miserably homesick all through fourth grade!  But now I can’t imagine having grown up anywhere else.

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

Random chance!  No, really.  I was working in Sacramento as a litigator and I was both flirting with burnout and suspicious that my firm’s parent company was going to be bought out.  I was too scared to quit without a plan, so I thought I’d hide out in graduate school (of any kind) for a year and then return to practice elsewhere.  When I looked it up online, the University of Washington’s Law Librarianship program application deadline was about a month away and they didn’t require the GRE, just my old LSAT score.  It took me about six months into the program to realize that I wanted to switch careers after all.  (And I’d been right; the company was bought out and almost everyone in my old office got let go.)

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

I was lucky enough to get hired by Columbia University’s Diamond Law Library straight out of library school.  Their FCIL print collection is amazing — both in terms of breadth and depth.  I spent 10 years there fielding questions from journal students, faculty, and major law firms (via Columbia’s Fee-Based Services).

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

I’m now at Cornell Law Library and I’ve been here since August 2018.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not well at all.  I studied Spanish in junior high and high school, and studied French in college.  I started studying Japanese during law school and continued for a couple years after.  For a while I could read manga and converse at a tourist level, but that’s mostly gone now.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

People keep electing me to leadership roles in AALL SISes!  I’m glad because it shows that people think I’m doing a good job at it.  I chaired LHRB-SIS (2014-2015), was Secretary/Treasurer for FCIL-SIS (2017-2019), and now I’ll get to chair ALL-SIS starting in July.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Bread.  Both chewy sourdough and squishy breads like Hawaiian egg bread or challah are really hard to resist.

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

I listen to very little music these days.  When I owned a car (see above in Sacramento) and drove several hours a week that was my music space.  I made lots of J-pop mix-CDs and switched between them and KROQ on the radio.  Due to the magic of repetition, I could sing along with almost every song (and I did).

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

A greater aptitude for learning languages.  To build on what I mentioned above, I can use French and Spanish written materials still, but I’ve found it harder and harder to acquire new languages as I’ve grown older.  While at Columbia I tried to learn German and Latin but with no great success.  Due to lack of practice, my ability to speak foreign languages has also degraded (vocabulary, accent, etc.) from the level I once had.

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

Something to read.  I’m not picky though; a book, my iPad, my phone, anything works.  I can’t watch TV for more than an hour or two without getting restless.  But put a good book or series of articles/longreads/blogs in my hands and I can spend a whole day on my couch.

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

Thanks for inviting me to do this!

Introducing…Marcelo Rodriguez as the May 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

elevator_Marcelo1. Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

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

I’ve always been interested in the law and legal research without ever wanting to be a lawyer. Law librarianship seems like the perfect fit.

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

My upbringing and language skills have always seemed a natural fit for any FCIL research questions. I’d like to think that my open mindedness and keen observations also play a part.

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

I currently work as a Research and Training Librarian at the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit located in New York, NY. I have been in this position for the last two years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Spanish is my mother tongue. Besides English, I also speak French very fluently. And I have some reading fluency in Hebrew and German.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

In the last two years, I have managed to coordinate 4 panels for the AALL Annual Meetings. This coming summer, I may be coordinating 4 more. Not only it has been a significant professional achievement, it has also been a transformative experience to network and exchange ideas with people equally passionate on the rule of law and legal information.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Pizza. I can eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even in between meals. Please do not share this questionnaire with my mother or my doctor.

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

Si tú te vas by Juan Luis Guerra. It’s the best thing ever! It reminds me of Puerto Rico in the early 1990s, friends and family gatherings.

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

American Sign Language (ASL). I would love to one day begin classes and become somewhat fluent.

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

Coffee. No sugar, no milk, no nothing, just pitch black coffee. I can always drink coffee and for all kinds of reasons either because I have to stay awake or even after a meal to just soothe myself.

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

If anyone is interested in Puerto Rican literature, I’m happy to recommend the following: Macho Camacho’s Beat by Luis Rafael Sánchez, Sirena Selena by Mayra Santos Febres and/or Eccentric Neighborhoods by Rosario Ferré and in Poetry: anything by Julia de Burgos.

Introducing…Errol Adams as the March 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

Errol Adams 120619-3

1.  Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Georgetown, Guyana – a country located in South America.

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

I selected law librarianship as a career after a former supervisor at the New York Civil Courtreferred me to a full MLS scholarship (law focused) at St. John’s University. She told me to apply for a scholarship. I had been working as a Senior Law Librarian at the Civil Court of New York City without a MLS degree. I successfully completed the program and received my MLS.

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

I developed an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law when I was hired as a law librarian at the College of the Bahamas, now University of the Bahamas in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas. I attended the Caribbean Association of Law Libraries Conference and that propelled me into this arena as most of the countries in the Caribbean follow/ed the UK legal system.

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

My current employer is Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University Law Library.  I have worked there for six months, but prior to this position, I was at Pace Law School Library for three and a half years.

5.  Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not really. I do understand some French and Spanish, though.

6.  What is your most significant professional achievement?

Graduating law school almost immediately after migrating to the U.S.

7.  What is your biggest food weakness?

Almost any kind of lamb…

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

Too many to list.  I do like a variety of music, including Bollywood music…[editor’s note: here are some Bollywood music listicles :)]

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

The ability to fly a plane.

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

Actual sugar.

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

Yes. I love to travel. I am very passionate about diversity initiatives. I created the first diversity & inclusion committee at the Law Librarians Association of Greater New York. I will be leading a panel discussion on cultural competence at AALL’s upcoming conference in New Orleans.

Introducing…Anne Abramson as the February 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

02.04.20 anne abramson

1. Where did you grow up?

Chicago

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

I attended a career change course at NYU and librarianship was one of the careers recommended.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law? I have always had an interest in all things international, starting with foreign language studies before and during college and majoring in International Relations at Stanford.

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

UIC John Marshall (fka John Marshall) since 1997

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

French, Spanish, some German

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am proud of my International Legal Research LibGuide, which I am in the process of updating, as well as the International legal research class that I developed and taught for three years. The LibGuide is like a textbook for the class.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Popcorn. I can’t stop eating it!

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

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)? There are so many, but I would say music (ability to read and play and instrument and/or sing) and math/science skills just for starters.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without? Getting outdoors & yoga or some form of movement/exercise.

11 Anything else you would like to share with us?

I am a home cook and yogi. I love international travel especially if it includes cooking and/or yoga classes. I also love birds and nature and am trying to find ways to experience even in a big urban environment like Chicago.

Introducing…Bianca Anderson as the January 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up three miles from where I work now, in Miami.  I count myself very lucky to be able to be able to not only work at my alma mater but to live in a community in which I have deep roots.

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

I practiced immigration law mostly in a non-profit setting for almost ten years focusing mainly on deportation defense.  While I felt it was deeply important work that made a real impact on a personal level for my clients,  I became increasingly frustrated by inefficiency and inequity in the immigration system.  I decided it was a good time to make a career change.  My brother and sister-in-law were already librarians, and I always admired their dedication to the needs of their patrons and the contribution they as librarians could make on their patron’s lives.  I viewed law librarianship as an opportunity to use my legal education and knowledge while still in service of others, the aspect I found most appealing of my immigration practice.  The last two years, I have had the opportunity to teach an Introduction to Legal Research course tailored to non-native English speakers in our LLM programs, in addition to Foreign & International Legal Research.  Teaching is an entirely different aspect of law  librarianship, with a  whole new world of challenges and opportunities that continue to present themselves.  I am truly enjoying this new role and am more certain than ever that I made the right choice all those years ago.

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

As a natural consequence of my immigration practice, I often had to research foreign and international laws, particularly in regards to international human rights norms, country condition information, and foreign laws related to marriage and family.  In the years that I have been the Foreign & International Law Librarian here at UM, I have developed a deep fondness for the field.  The field is so diverse and rich, my work is never boring, and I love learning something new with every project I assist on.  I can’t deny that I also love the thrill of the chase, and I very much enjoy finding obscure materials that a student or faculty member regarded “unfindable.”  It’s a superpower!

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

I am Librarian Assistant Professor & Lecturer in Law at the University of Miami.  I have worked here a little over seven years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

As the child of Cuban immigrants, I speak Spanish fluently.  My knowledge of Spanish deepened in my immigration practice as it was invaluable to communicate with my clients in their native language.  I have a reading fluency of French, having studied it for five years in high school and university.  Unfortunately, I have not had as much opportunity as I would’ve liked to improve my spoken French, but it does remain a goal of mine.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am probably proudest of my role in designing the Fall research workshop series for our library.  We found ourselves without an Instructional Services Librarian one Fall, and I was asked to design and run the workshop series.  In the past, the workshop series covered mostly substantive topic research sessions based on course offerings specifically for that semester.  I designed a Fall workshop series structured around basic skills needed to conduct legal research, based on AALL’s Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency.  I called it the Legal Research Toolbox, and offered the following workshops: Creating a Research Plan, Keyword Selection, Terms and Connectors, Citators, Using Annotations Effectively, and Weight of Authority.  I was astounded and delighted by the overwhelmingly positive response.  In  the first semester we presented the Legal Research Toolbox Series, we had 63% increase in attendance to the year before and a 127% increase to the year before that. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that in we only offered six workshops, whereas in previous semesters we offered an average of nine.  I once again planned and coordinated the workshop series the following Fall, and our attendance levels continued to increase.  The coordination of the workshop series returned to the Instructional Services Librarian once the position was filled, and the new librarian in the role has continued to employ the structure and topics that I implemented for the Fall workshops, with the additions of workshops on Evaluating Sources, and Artificial Intelligence in Legal Research, which I have co-taught with him.  The attendance levels still continue to increase each Fall.  I am so glad to have been able to contribute to a service that students seek out and find helpful as they develop and improve their research skills.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Dessert!  I definitely have a sweet tooth and to me, a meal feels incomplete without a touch of something sweet at the end.  I have a particular weakness for lemon desserts- lemon cake, lemon cookies, lemon soufflé.  I can’t say no!

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

I struggled way too long contemplating this, so I’ll break the rules and name a few.

My obsession over the last few years has been cast recording of the musical Hamilton.  I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is a true genius. Among my prized possessions are copies of the Hamilton and In the Heights librettos, signed by Mr. Miranda.   I’ve been lucky enough to see the show in Chicago  and on tour in Fort Lauderdale, and I have tickets to see the tour again in Miami in March! Much to my children’s shame and embarrassment, particularly my teenager, I like to break out into song, and lately, it is usually a song from Hamilton.  One of my standards at karaoke is “My Shot.”  I’ve been told it is truly an experience to witness!

Besides that I love all sorts of music- some favorites in no particular order- the Beatles, Beach Boys, Phoenix, Adele, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Iron & Wine.  There are a few songs I just can’t resist dancing to, a couple recent ones are “Uptown Funk”by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson and “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift.

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

Can it be a make believe skill?  I wish I could teleport.  Just snap my fingers and be where I need to be in an instant.  I have a 4 year old and a 13 year old, and, well- most parents know the drill- there are dance classes, art classes, soccer practices, baseball practices, school events, parent teacher conferences, PTA meetings, homework, and projects, that all need to be attended to- and that’s just your typical Wednesday!

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

I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I feel like I am missing a limb without my phone.  My entire existence (and my family’s!) is kept organize on that little device- calendars, reminders, to do lists, maps, notes, photos, emails, chats, all of it!  I do try to be aware of how much I use the phone and set rules for myself that I hope my kids will emulate- 1) no phone at the dinner table- the person sitting in front of you is more important than the screen, 2) not every minute of every day needs to be captured by a photo- I’d rather experience the moment than capture a picture of it, and 3) do only one thing at a time- no driving and cell phone, no watching television and cell phone, no walking and cell phone.

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

I very much appreciate this group and my colleagues in the FCIL-SIS.  I never fail to be awed and inspired by the work all of you do, and I count myself fortunate to part of such a collaborative and supportive community.

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?

Chocolate

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

sola

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.