Introducing…Erin Gow as the May 2019 FCIL Member of the Month

erin gow1. Where did you grow up?

Richmond, Kentucky.

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

Did I select it?? I certainly didn’t mean to – it just sort of … happened.

The final requirement for my library degree at the University of Brighton (they no longer offer this course) was a dissertation based on a research project at a host library. Middle Temple Library,  a law library in London, was looking for someone to research their users’ training needs, and since I had a background in education I thought this sounded interesting. I ended up learning A LOT about legal research, and enjoying it more than I expected to. Just before graduation a related law library, Gray’s Inn Library, had an opening in their graduate trainee program, which was designed for library graduates without any legal experience. I applied and was hired, and once again I ended up learning A LOT about British law and legal systems, and really enjoying the experience. When they invited me to stay on for a second year, I was delighted, and then when a job opened up back at Middle Temple Library, where I had done my dissertation research, I immediately knew I wanted to apply. I became a law librarian because of a string of opportunities, some first class training and support from amazing law librarians, and the fact that I ended up enjoying the work a lot more than I ever expected to!

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

Gray’s Inn Library had a specialist collection of international law, but as an American working in British libraries all the law was foreign to me! It was really becoming the European Librarian at Middle Temple Library that made me realize how much I enjoyed FCIL work specifically though. I loved learning about the intricacies of the EU and the challenge of finding foreign legal materials from across Europe.

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

I have worked at the University of Louisville Law Library for nearly 3 years (in March!).

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not really. I took several years of Spanish in high school and at college, and started to work on developing a reading knowledge of French and German while working at Middle Temple, but I simply don’t use any of this enough to have retained very much.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Probably just the reality of being the European Librarian at Middle Temple Library for a little while. It’s an incredibly cool library and I really respect the librarians and library users at all the Inns of Court, so it felt like an achievement just to be hired there. In retrospect I also realize how much the job as a whole pushed me to develop a whole range of new professional skills and confidence, in a way that I didn’t even recognize as I was just getting up and doing the work to the best of my ability each day.

On the other hand, presenting at the British and Irish Association of Law Libraries annual conference in 2014 felt like a significant professional achievement at the time. It was fun to be aware of actually doing something significant (for me at any rate!), but also kind of intimidating.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Macaroni and cheese. I’ll eat it as a side dish or a main, homemade or from a box, fresh or frozen.

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

Honestly, I ‘m not really a dancer or a singer – see below.

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

I have always wanted to be able to play some sort of musical instrument or sing well. Unfortunately, I lack any sense of rhythm and can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

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

Orange juice – it’s my coffee.

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

I’m the current chair of the European Law Interest Group and would love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved with the group or share an idea for a project!

Introducing…Heather Casey as the March 2019 FCIL Member of the Month

heather casey

1. Where did you grow up?

We lived in a lot of places but mainly Virginia and Ohio. I’ve also lived in Utah, Nevada, France, Louisiana, and Rhode Island (one of those is not like the others…).

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

I’d gotten my library degree before I went to law school and always thought of law librarianship as something fun to do in retirement. But then the financial crisis of 2008 hit just as I was about to graduate from law school and all these visions I’d had of driving away from graduation in a Mercedes while lighting a cigar with a $100 bill went up in smoke. Suddenly, law librarianship wasn’t something to amuse myself with in old age, but the only viable career path. I have no regrets with how things have worked out. I don’t even like cigars anyway.

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

Having lived abroad for a couple of years in my early 20s, I had an appreciation for the differences between how societies handled basic rights like healthcare and immigration long before law school was even an idea in my mind. Thus, once I finally attended law school, it was with an eye to taking classes on international and foreign laws when they were available.

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

I’m at Georgetown and have been here for almost 6 years. 

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I butcher French with a savagery that brings tears to French speakers’ eyes (I just pretend they’re tears of joy). Other languages I can mangle include Spanish and Italian.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’m quite proud of the workshops in Africa that I’ve participated in with Sonia Poulin and others. We’ve worked to strengthen the law library network there, both among anglophones and francophones and it’s one of the things I’m most grateful to have been a part of. I’ve made lasting friendships and feel like I understand the challenges and successes of librarians there in a way I wouldn’t otherwise comprehend. It’s been incredible to realize how many similarities we, as law librarians, share, regardless of our jurisdiction. We all want to accomplish the same goals – provide access to legal information for our patrons in a way that helps patrons better understand the materials they need.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Pretty sure we don’t have enough room for all my food indulgences. It suffices that I didn’t get my ample figure from saying no to a second serving or twelve.

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

This depends on my mood. How shameful is it if I admit I still enjoy Despacito from time to time? That shameful? Oh okay.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)? Time travel would be nice. A faster metabolism…wait, am I supposed to be talking about skills and abilities I can actually acquire?

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

I have to make the bed every morning. My day is ruined if I know the bed is messy and unmade. When I travel and my husband stays home, I know he isn’t making the bed but that’s okay because I make the bed at the hotel I’m in and ignore the fact that he’s reliving his glory days in college at home (because I know he’ll have it all cleaned up before I return). It’s just a weird quirk – like my mind isn’t organized if my living space isn’t.

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

I think I’ve said enough to give you all fodder for humiliation. 

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

Jennifer Allison

1. Where did you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing…Joan Sherer as the January 2019 FCIL Member of the Month

01.19 Joan Sherer

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Kresgeville, PA. It is a very small village about 30 miles north of Allentown.

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

A family friend, who just happened to be the secretary at my high school’s library, suggested I consider librarianship.

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

It wasn’t until I started at the State Department that I really delved into it.

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

I work for the Department of State and I’ve been here 20 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not really. I had Spanish in high school and college, but my knowledge of the language is rusty.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I think landing the position of Law Librarian at the State Department. This has been a wonderful experience and I feel fortunate to serve the Department in this very small capacity. It still amazes me when I get research requests from our embassies all over the world.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

While I hate to admit it, but it’s peanut M&Ms. I just love them.

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

I have two, Happy by Pharrell and September, by Earth, Wind & Fire. As I was driving home last night and Happy came on the radio. While I couldn’t get up and dance, I did sing along.

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

I admit I am a mediocre cook. I would love to be able to have the skills of a gourmet chef.

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

I would be lost without a good book to read. I have a never ending reading list of both fiction and nonfiction books that I hope to read one day.

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

This is a good venue to announce that I am retiring on December 31st.  In fact, if you are reading this after that date I am already retired. As much as I love my job, it is time to move on to other things. I’m looking forward to moving back to Pennsylvania next summer and spending more time with friends and family. Incidentally, it may take several months until my position is posted, but if you are interested in a federal government position working with a stellar group of librarians, check usajobs.gov in the coming months.

 

Introducing…Kevin Rothenberg as the December 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Kevin Rothenberg Photo
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Cary, North Carolina which is just outside of Raleigh.  
 
2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?
While I was in law school at Wake Forest, I worked in the library’s RA pool under the supervision of the fabulous Liz Johnson.  I loved that job. The work was varied and interesting, my supervisors were all wonderful, and several of us RA’s were close friends to begin with, which made it all the more fun.  By the end of my 2L summer I was pretty sure that I wanted to be a law librarian, so after I graduated I took a fellowship in Wake Forest’s library and enrolled in library school at UNC Greensboro just down the road.  After about 2 or 3 months in the fellowship, my mind was totally made up. I really owe a great deal to the staff at the Worrell Professional Center Library, who graciously and patiently guided me into this amazing career. 
 
3. When did you develop an interest in Foreign, Comparative, and International Law?
I learned a little bit about FCIL librarianship while I was a fellow at Wake Forest, but it wasn’t until I came to the Robert Crown Law Library that I really got interested.  The faculty, staff, and students here are actively researching and writing on certain FCIL topics, so I think my interest sprang from necessity, and also proximity to such enthusiastic and well-informed people.  
 
4. Who is your current employer?  How long have you worked there?
Currently, I work at the Robert Crown Law Library at the Stanford Law School.  I’ve worked here for a little over 6 months now. 
 
5. Do you speak any foreign languages?
“Speak” would be a stretch.  I took 4 years of German in high school and a semester of it in college, so with a dictionary and a little brushing up, I can puzzle through some German texts.  But my spoken German is pretty rusty.
 
6. What is your most significant professional achievement?
That’s tough.  If I had to pick one thing, I would say the article I wrote for the most recent issue of AALL Spectrum.  That was the first time I had ever written something that got published like that.  It was a very gratifying experience.
 
7. What is your biggest food weakness?
French fries, hash browns, tater tots: basically, anything in the fried potato food group that can be smothered in molten cheese sauce–which is also a food weakness of mine.
 
8. What songs make you want to get up and sing/dance?
I’m not much of a singer/dancer, but “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show.  Growing up in and around Raleigh, I was basically duty bound to sing-shout the line, “And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free,” every time.  Also, “Whoomp! There It Is.” Which is unrelated to North Carolina, as far as I know.
 
9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?
Fluency in a second language.  Or reading proficiency in a few languages.
 
10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?
Reading a good book.  Or cooking something.
 
11. Anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m the current chair of the Customary and Religious Law Interest Group (CARLIG)! If you have any interest in customary or religious law topics, consider joining the group, or reaching out to me at karothen@law.stanford.edu.

FCIL-SIS Call for Nominations for Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer

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

Nominees are now being accepted for Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer 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.  The position of Secretary/Treasurer requires a two-year commitment, and the holder of this office is expected to attend the AALL Annual Meeting both years.  More information is available in the FCIL-SIS Bylaws.

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

Nominations must be received by December 15, 2018.  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!

we_want_you_shutterstock_1165511908

Introducing…Melissa Abernathy as the November 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

2018.11 melissa

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Monterey Park, CA, a suburb about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.  Monterey Park is known for having a vibrant Chinese-American community, producing several Chinese-American mayors and one U.S. House Representative (Judy Chu).  It’s also home to the best dim sum, hands down.

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

As a second year law student at Lewis & Clark I worked as a faculty RA, Westlaw student rep, circulation desk worker, and was very involved in law review.  Between those four positions I spent a LOT of time in the law library.  One day, a reference librarian and I waded through the CIS index and down into the bowels of the microfiche collection, on the hunt for some legislative history I needed for cite-checking.  I have to admit I shot her a few dubious glances as we dug deeper and deeper, dutifully writing down SuDoc numbers.  Like magic, she unearthed the item we needed and loaded it onto the microform machine.  Color me impressed! By my third year I was hanging around the reference desk enough that the librarians began mentioning the possibility of library school.  Many of them had matriculated through Penny Hazelton’s program at the University of Washington so I applied straight away and was accepted.  As they say, the rest is history.

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

I got my first taste of international law working with the International Environmental Law Project during law school.  One research assignment involved endangered gorillas crossing protected areas in three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Treaties, domestic legislation, and Virunga mountain gorillas, oh my! You could say I was hooked. Several international law courses and papers later, I ended up applying to an FCIL librarianship position at the University of San Diego straight out of library school.

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

I have been with the University of San Diego, Legal Research Center since 2007.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Sadly, I do not.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’m most proud of the inroads I’ve made with FCIL teaching at USD since starting here over a decade ago.  We now teach several classes in the LLM in Comparative Law Program and U.S. Law and Policy Program (foreign scholars mainly from Korea), as well as provide FCIL training for our Vis International Moot Court team and International Law Journal students. Most recently we added a 1-credit, 7-week course on International Legal Research for which I am the instructor of record.  We’ve only offered the course twice so far but the response has been very positive.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Pizza!

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

Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker, or really any version.

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

Like many FCIL librarians, I would love the ability to speak one or more foreign languages.

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

A good belly rub for my sweet 17-year-old pup, Shadow.

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

My husband and I are expecting our first baby (a boy!) this December.