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

02.04.20 anne abramson

1. Where did you grow up?


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.

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.

Introducing…Stephanie Wilson as the October 2019 FCIL Member of the Month

Stephanie Wilson1. Where did you grow up? I grew up in California; first in Brookdale, in the Santa Cruz Mountains; then eventually in Carmel.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career? When I went to CUNY Law School to get my JD I worked as a research assistant for several professors who were doing ground breaking work in women’s reproductive health and domestic violence issues.  I discovered that I loved researching. I graduated and worked as a lawyer for five years; my last stint was as a lawyer with the Juvenile Rights Division of New York City’s Legal Aid Society, and I realized the power of research in crafting arguments and outcomes. I hated litigation, but still found the law interesting and full of mysteries. Librarianship seemed like the perfect fit for me. And it still is!

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law? I developed this interest way back in law school, when I took a course in the international law of human rights.  I felt like a secret passage had been opened and here was an entire world of different legal structures, diverse cultures, norms, and concepts.  I was hooked from then on.  More recently I’ve had the opportunity to research questions in international human rights and also international arbitration for our faculty.  I find this work very gratifying.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have  you worked there? I am the Head of Reference Services at Seattle University School of Law, and I have been here since 2001.  I started working with our international law professors and learning more about international legal research about four years ago.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? I do not, but I wish I did!

6. What is your most significant professional achievement? Our faculty includes Professor Lorraine Bannai, who was a lawyer on the Fred Korematsu coram nobis case.  In my years working with Professor Bannai I created two extensive exhibits for our library, one about Fred Korematsu and the other about Gordon Hirabayashi. To make the exhibits I did extensive research in archives, news sources, and legal documents, and brought them together with photographs, and family artifacts to tell a compelling story. The exhibits have traveled and been shown in other libraries and colleges.  I also did extensive research for Professor Bannai’s biography of Fred Korematsu. All of these experiences are my favorite professional achievements because I was able to combine extensive research, investigation, and creativity to make educational exhibits and bring an important book to light.

7. What is your biggest food weakness? Harry and David’s Moose Munch.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance? That changes frequently.  Right now it is Juice by Lizzo.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)? I wish I could speak and read Japanese, for personal reasons (some of my family is Japanese) and because I dream about working there during a sabbatical.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without? A hug from my 11 year old son. Better yet, a hug and a joke.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us? I only recently joined this SIS and have found the members to be very friendly and welcoming.   Thank you!

The 2020 Call for Programming Proposals is Open Now!

By Susan Gualtier

The AALL Annual Meeting Program Proposal site is now open!

Remember all of that brainstorming and up-voting you did during the Ideascale phase of program development for the 2020 AALL Annual Conference?  Well, it paid off!  The AMPC has published its list of must-have program topics and there are a number that incorporate the FCIL perspective. For example:

  • Under the Professionalism + Leadership at every level category: Cultural and Identity Awareness and Competencies and Globalization Demands Approaches That Include Foreign, Comparative, and International Perspectives
  • Under the Research + Analysis category: Civil Law Research (including legislative processes, tools, influences on civil law, and Louisiana/New Orleans research)
  • Under the Teaching + Training category: Assisting non-JD Patrons

The AMPC has given us the opportunity to incorporate FCIL programming into almost every category of must-have programming for the New Orleans conference.  We cannot waste this opportunity!

I urge each of you to contact me ( and Dennis Sears ( and tell us what you are willing and able to do to help us transform all of the ideas listed above and on Ideascale into actual programs.  We need your help!  We are also available to help you when it comes to navigating the proposal site and developing your programs.  As co-Chairs of the FCIL-SIS Education Committee, it is our job to encourage and support you in developing ideas and program proposals in anticipation of next year’s meeting.

Congratulations on a job well done so far, and we look forward to hearing from you during the proposal process!


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.

FCIL Program Ideas in 2020 IdeaScale, Fourth and Final Week!

By Susan Gualtier

French Quarter

Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, New Orleans

Here it is… the final week of the first phase of next year’s programming proposal process!  Ideascale will close this Friday, August 16, so this is your last chance to post your proposal ideas and to vote on the ideas that have already been posted!

We’ve had several great new FCIL programming ideas posted to IdeaScale this week, so be sure and check them out and give them an upvote!  We also encourage you to submit your own program ideas to IdeaScale.  We need your ideas as much as your votes!!  You can do this anonymously if you like.  If you have questions, comments, concerns, or calls for help, please reach out to me ( and/or Dennis Sears (  As co-Chairs of the FCIL-SIS Education Committee, it is our job to encourage and support you in developing ideas and program proposals in anticipation of next year’s meeting.

Each Monday from now through August 16, DipLawMatic Dialogues will bring you an update on all of the FCIL-related program ideas currently posted in IdeaScale to encourage you to “up-vote” these programs. For more on why up-voting is important, see here.

Cultural Intelligence and Academic Law Libraries Research

As the 2019 ALL-SIS Research & Scholarship grant recipient, this presentation on “Cultural Intelligence and Academic Law Libraries” will report on my findings, analysis and recommendations based on my research study over the past year. The purpose of my research study is to examine the cultural intelligence in academic law librarians, in order to understand the perspective of these librarians and to help them better serve their stakeholders. Cultural intelligence is defined as the capability of an individual to function effectively across new cultural settings (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008). The following research questions are examined within the study and relate to areas of the American Association of Law Libraries research agenda: (a) What is the overall level of cultural intelligence of participating academic law librarians?, (b) What variations among participating academic law librarians, if any, exist among the four dimensions of cultural intelligence?, (c) What viewpoints do the law librarians have about the value and importance of cultural intelligence within their organizations?, and (d) how can academic law librarians best serve the information needs of their patrons through use of cultural intelligence? This research supports both the spirit and the practical application of at least three of the AALL Body of Knowledge Domains (professionalism + leadership, teaching + training, and marketing + outreach). The research includes a mixed-methods approach with 171 participants. I hope you will join me in learning more about my results and conclusions from our ALL-SIS membership and recommendations for practice and research.

BOK Content Area:  Professionalism & Leadership at Every Level

Improving Access to Law and Justice in Communities of the World

In emerging democracies and developing countries, access to the law is necessary for members of the public to fully participate in the democratic process. However, people in communities around the world face barriers to accessing official law and legal information. How can law libraries and legal information professionals help members of these communities (including refugees, women, indigenous communities, the poor, and pro se litigants) gain access to the law? How can a strong legal information system assist both legal providers and average people by creating tools that expand understanding of the law? This program will look at efforts being made in other countries to ensure that members of the public have access to official versions of the law and will also consider global and regional endeavors by organizations including the Legal Information Institutes and Free Access to Law Movement. Projects underway to promote increased understanding of the law will also be examined.

Potential speakers include Stephen Wyber, Manager for Policy and Advocacy for the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and a representative from one of the LIIs around the world, such as the African LII or the Canadian LII. Another possibility is someone to provide perspective from the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) or the Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL).

BOK Content Area:  Marketing & Outreach

Louisiana Law/Civil Law/Comparative Law Roundtable

Building upon and combining some of the ideas already posted, this program would take place in a round table format where participants could discuss topics relating to Louisiana and other civil and mixed jurisdictions. Potential table topics include:

Collection development


Government documents


Louisiana legal history

Louisiana’s place in comparative law

Civil law generally (structure and research methods)

Civil law in Louisiana courts

Facilitators would consist of librarians familiar with Louisiana, civil, and comparative law issues in the relevant areas.

This program could also be proposed in a longer form that included an overview of Lousiana’s legal system and its place in civil and comparative law, before the participants break up into tables.

BOK Content Area:  Professionalism & Leadership at Every Level

Hebrew-script books on non-Jewish legal systems

These are books written by and for Jews in Hebrew script languages, about the legal systems they have lived under as a less-than privileged minority. Examples includes a book on Yiddish on the American legal system written at the start of the 20th century, a Hebrew/Aramaic parody of a talmudic tractae discussing prohibition in the early 20th century, a Hebrew translation of the Ottoman conscription law, and the text of the Austrian civil code written mid-19th century translated into Hebrew with an explanatory commentary in the style of traditional Jewish “rabbinical” legal commentary. This program was presented at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference six years ago and could be adapted by adding explanation of cultural background for non-Hebrew speakers. It could be enhanced or combined with a program on other examples of popular literature on the legal system written by and for minorities in a language not commonly known by scholars of those systems. It may be of special interested to the customary and religious law group in FCIL, the Jewish Librarians Caucus and the LHRB SIS.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Obtaining & Using Copyrighted Materials from Foreign Countries

What does a U.S. law librarian do when a book or report that a patron needs to consult is only available at a library in England or India? How about when a thesis or document that another patron needs for research purposes is only available at a library in Namibia or New Zealand?Many libraries do not want to lend items internationally through OCLC WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, so ILL requests sent to non-U.S. countries are frequently returned unfilled. If a librarian—undeterred and unwilling to give up—contacts the library in another country directly to request scanned chapters of the book or a scanned copy of the report, how can the librarian ensure that the request does not violate that country’s copyright laws? Do other countries have fair use exceptions and library exemptions in their copyright laws similar to U.S. copyright law? How do copyright term lengths differ in other countries?

This program addresses how to research foreign copyright laws, how to legally obtain copies of copyrighted material from libraries around the world, and how to obtain permission to use copyrighted material that has been registered for copyright protection in another country.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Unmasking the World’s 100 Most Influential Legal Texts

What are the 100 most influential texts in the world’s legal literature? Who better to ask than law librarians? We invite AALL members to share their expertise and diverse viewpoints in an interactive session that will be both fun and intellectually engaging. The resulting list may form the basis for a publication, a major public exhibition, and/or a dynamic, ever-growing online project. More than simply a tool for collecting or teaching, the list of the world’s most influential legal texts will demonstrate the profound impact of law on our lives throughout history and into the future.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Legal research in civil law jurisdictions – all that different?

Legal research in civil law jurisdictions may not be as different as you may expect! The

influence of the common law can be seen, for instance, in the increased reliance on precedent and increased length in decisions. One might even question whether the emphasis on doctrine is really as strong now as it used to be.

A slight spin on the ideas already suggested, this panel is a little more introductory, but acknowledges the changing nature of practice in a civilian jurisdiction. Starting with the same research question, law librarians/ lawyers in various civil law jurisdictions will explain how they would tackle the question in their respective jurisdictions. Case law from these jurisdictions will also be compared.


BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Tips Tools & Techniques for Environmental Law Research

We don’t do as many research subject specific programs as in past. Why not take advantage of local expertise for an introductory to intermediate level program on how to research / tools for environmental law research?

See Tulane Law School

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Tools Tips & Techniques in Admiralty & Maritime Law

We aren’t doing as many legal research specific programs as in past. Why not take advantage of our location in New Orleans and the local expertise in admiralty and maritime law?

See Tulane Law School

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Screening of Documentary “Change the Subject” With Panel

“Change the Subject” is a recent documentary, about the students and librarians who have been fighting to change the Library of Congress subject heading from “Illegal Aliens” to something less pejorative, such as “undocumented people.” The struggle to change this heading even caught the attention of Congress, who until then had never taken an interest in LC subject headings that anyone could recall.

You can read more and view a trailer here: The filmmakers are excited and available to come screen the film and then answers questions during a panel session. Panel would also include law librarians involved in this struggle.

BOK Content Area:  Professionalism & Leadership at Every Level

How Codes are Made: Creating Laws in Civil Jurisdictions

Is there a difference between a code and a set of statutes? How does the process of codification differ between common law and civilian jurisdictions? What roles do legislatures and law reform bodies play? This panel will help librarians to understand the role that codes play in civilian and mixed jurisdictions and how and whether it differs from that of the “codes” that most of us would recognize as codified statutes. The panel will explore how codes are constructed in a variety of jurisdictions.

Speakers will include law faculty and drafters from Louisiana, as well as from or familiar with similar jurisdictions, such as Quebec, Scotland, and South Africa.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Is it Napoleonic? Foreign/Domestic Influences on LA Civil Code

Interpreting and researching modern civil law depends upon an understanding of the historical sources from which those laws evolved. People often say that Louisiana uses the Napoleonic Code, but is that true? Louisiana has been both a French and Spanish colony, and it has been a part of the American legal system for over 200 years; it has also been influenced by Roman Law, Greek Law, Canon Law, and the Germanic Civil Law tradition.

This panel will help librarians understand the legal system of Louisiana, how the Louisiana Civil Code is drafted, and how the Civil Code operates within Louisiana’s mixed, partially common law jurisdiction. It will explore the relationship between codes, statutes, and cases, and how primary and secondary authority are defined and developed within Louisiana’s unique legal system. The panel will also cover elements of Louisiana legal research, including Louisiana’s unique legal publishing industry, the importance of print resources in Louisiana legal research, and available historical treatises and primary sources. The program will be accompanied by a LibGuide to assist non-Louisiana law librarians in researching Louisiana legal issues.

Speakers may include Louisiana law librarians, Louisiana law faculty, and members of the Louisiana State Law Institute (LSLI).

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Researching, Publishing, and Collecting the Laws of Louisiana

Most law librarians are aware of Louisiana’s unique and “different” legal system. But what does that mean for legal research, legal publishing, and collection development in the Pelican State?

This program will cover aspects of Louisiana legal research and collection development, including Louisiana’s small and specialized legal publishing industry, the importance of print resources in Louisiana legal research, and available primary and secondary sources. The program will be accompanied by a LibGuide to assist non-Louisiana law librarians in researching Louisiana legal issues and choosing Louisiana legal resources.

Speakers may include Louisiana law librarians, legal scholars, and representatives of university presses and other publishers of Louisiana law.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

LA Civil Code & Other Influences on Civil Law in Latin America

The Louisiana civil code has directly and significantly influenced civil law in Latin America. It is generally believed that Spanish language translations of a mid-nineteenth century digest of world civil codes served as the first introduction of the civil law in Latin America. The Louisiana civil code was included in this digest (along with the codes of France, Sicily, Piedmont, the Netherlands, Bavaria, Austria, and Prussia), and the Spanish translation of the digest would therefore have served as the very first Spanish translation of the Louisiana civil code.

Around the same time, Spain was beginning to draft its first civil code post-unification, which would not be enacted until 1889. The commentaries provided during the drafting of the Spanish civil code, many of which referred to the code already in place in Louisiana, also heavily influenced the development of the civil law in Latin American countries.Latin American lawmakers turned to the Louisiana civil code not only because of the Spanish language translations and commentaries, but also because it was the first civil code to be drafted in the New World and could therefore serve as a model for Latin American countries that had been fighting for their own independence and that sought to express that independence through their own civil codes. Similarities between the Louisiana and French codes during this period were also significant, as the French code, which captured the spirit of post-Revolutionary France, had also captured the imagination of Latin America. As scholarship on Latin American civil law points out, the first Latin American codes were nearly word for word translations of the French civil code and its corresponding Louisiana code provisions, with departures only where the Latin American codes made reference to much older Spanish laws.

This program will explore the historical influences on Latin American civil law, which are invaluable in helping us to understand and research the modern laws. Speakers will consist of law librarians and civil law scholars who have researched extensively the development of Latin American civil law.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Recent Reforms in the French Law of Obligations

Adapted from a symposium recently held at the Louisiana Supreme Court, this panel will address recent reforms to the French Law of Obligations and what they mean both for France and for French-influenced jurisdictions like Louisiana. Speakers will discuss the need for reforms to adapt the law to modern economic and social environments and to make French law more attractive to international markets. Specific changes to the law, as well as how they are playing out in practice, will be discussed in detail depending upon the available speakers’ expertise. We will round out the panel with a brief discussion of how the reforms in France could eventually affect the law of Louisiana and of other French-influenced jurisdictions.

Speakers would include scholars of French law, Louisiana law, and potential additional jurisdictions’ law, depending on availability. This program could be condensed into a short form program and/or proposed as a half workshop or symposium.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Through the Codes Darkly: Slave Law and Civil Law in Louisiana

In his 2012 book, “Through the Codes Darkly: Slave Law and Civil Law in Louisiana” (, Tulane Law Professor Vernon Palmer challenged the prevailing argument that Louisiana’s slave laws were more permissive or protective than those of the other states. The differences between Louisiana’s slave laws and those of the other states have been attributed largely to the alleged adoption of ancient Roman slave laws during the drafting of Louisiana’s Code Noir, or “Black Code.” Because the Romans owned slaves of all races, some scholars have argued that the Roman laws were “color-blind” and that their incorporation into the Code Noir laid the groundwork for a more permissive body of slave law in the French territories. These scholars contrast the civil slave laws to the body of case law that developed to govern slavery in the other states, and argue that, while the common law developed specifically within a racial system, the civil law did not develop from the intent to oppress any particular race.

In “Through the Codes Darkly,” Palmer breaks with the earlier scholarship claiming that the Code Noir was based on Roman law. He instead relies on archival research, examining the Code Noir drafters’ backgrounds, the instructions they received from France, and the notes they generated during the course of their work. Palmer argues that the Code Noir was in fact based on the drafters’ own experiences in the New World, and that the Roman slave laws, which would have been largely irrelevant to slavery in the Americas, did not, in fact, form the substantive basis of the Code Noir. In breaking with Romanist scholarship, Palmer owns that the drafters of the Code Noir created a “profoundly racial document embodying the prejudices of their own white supremacist society.”

This program would explore Palmer’s trailblazing research into the law of slavery in Louisiana. The speaker would ideally be Professor Palmer himself, although other local law professors would also be qualified to speak on this topic if Professor Palmer were not available.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

French, Spanish, African and Jewish influences in US Law

New Orleans and Louisiana in general with its rich city and legal history is the perfect set for this panel. Legal experts and historical experts will shed some light on the French, Spanish, African and Jewish influences which might have been present and even created in Louisiana or New Orleans and then made it to US law. Potential speakers include historical and legal experts on the topic, local history experts, and a local legal history expert or just legal history expert.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Legal information from U.S. Territories

Legal information from and on the current U.S. territories is a nightmare to find. Most major commercial vendors do not include this information and local institutions do not have the resources to digitize and make this information more accessible. What should we do?

Potential speakers include law librarians from different U.S. territories, law librarian specializing in this area, perhaps a government/court librarian from the territories.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Is Google Translate the only option?

The legal document or any material you are working on has a few sentences on Spanish, Estonian, Swahili or Vietnamese. What do you do? If you’re under some pressing time constraints locating and hiring a translator might not be an option. Is Google Translate the only and best option we have? Are there any other options out there either free or not?

Potential speakers include: a FCIL librarian with experience using materials in foreign languages, a certified legal translator, a rep from Google Translate or someone working in one of the other translation sites or apps such as Linguee or Lingvo.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis