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.

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.

Introducing…Sarah Reis as the October 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in central Maryland, about halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in an old farmhouse built in 1912 in a very rural area. One good thing about the AALL Annual Meeting being in roughly the same location this year and next year is that it makes it easy for me to visit my parents!

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

Prior to law school, I worked as a paralegal for three years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., and that experience helped me realize, going in to law school, that I did not want to become a litigator. My favorite class during 1L year was Communication & Legal Reasoning, which is a two-semester legal research and writing course. My professor for that class was a former director of the law library (James W. McMasters), so I learned about this career path from him.

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 working at Stanford Law School as a general reference librarian. The foreign and international law research requests were always were the most challenging, and thus the most interesting.

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

I work at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. I started working here about six months ago, but I attended law school here and worked at the law library while I was a student. I love how I now get to work alongside many people who were mentors to me when I was a student.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? 

I do not. During high school, the Spanish and French classes conflicted with my math classes, so I got stuck on the Latin track and waived out of the foreign language requirement in college due to AP Latin credits. I have so many regrets. However, I am currently learning Spanish and am grateful for how technology has made it so easy and convenient to learn a new foreign language today.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am still early in my career as a librarian, so I hope the best is yet to come. One of the articles I wrote while earning my MLIS degree was published in Law Library Journal last year.

7. What is your biggest food weakness? 

Haribo gummy bears. “Haribo macht Kinder froh – und Erwachsene ebenso” is so very true. My family traveled to Germany almost every year when I was a kid, and one of the highlights of my childhood was visiting the Haribo gummy bear factory.

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

Come Together by The Beatles.

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

I wish I were fluent in many languages, like this Icelandic footballer. But if we are talking superpowers, then I’d say the ability to teleport. Or, in Harry Potter speak, the ability to Apparate.

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

My black cat, Pepper. But she probably actually qualifies as a basic necessity. Like any cat, her hobbies include eating and sleeping, fitting herself into any box or bag, and knocking things off tables. But unlike most cats, she is an excellent traveler—cars, trains, planes—it doesn’t matter. We have not gone on a boat trip together. Yet.

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

I am really looking forward to getting to know and working with everyone in this community!

Introducing…Paul Moorman as the September 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Paul Moorman

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.  No, not on a farm, but I have detasseled corn.

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

I remember first thinking about law librarianship as a career while still in law school after a particularly helpful reference librarian steered me in the right direction for a paper I was writing.  However, it wasn’t until about a decade after practicing law that I started to seriously consider making a career change.

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

I’m going to blame it on my stunning diplomatic victory as the representative of the Byelorussian SSR at the 1985 Omaha Area High School Model UN.   They hook you when you’re young.

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

I work for the USC Gould School of Law and I’ve been here for 13 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

German was one of my majors in college.  I used to consider myself conversationally fluent, but I’m very rusty. I’ve also taken classes in Spanish and Russian.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Achieving continuing appointment (our equivalent of tenure).

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Maybe you should ask what isn’t?  I indulge in salty snacks a lot more than is healthy.

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

I don’t do much dancing anymore except at weddings and if you look at my typical play lists you’ll see that I’m still stuck in the 80s, however, if I’m on the treadmill, I like to play Alors on Danse by Stromae, a Belgian who sings in French.  That song always makes me go a little faster.

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

I occasionally have dreams that I can fly and when I do they make me happy so I’ll say flying.

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

Coffee and the New York Times.

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

I am so lucky to have joined a profession that I love and that is filled with wonderful, smart, and generous people.   Life is fantastic when you love what you do.

Introducing…Lora Johns as the August 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

2018.08 lora johns

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where I developed my first love of all things multicultural thanks to the city’s German, Slovak, Polish, and other immigrant communities.

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

Law librarianship lets me research, write, and be creative – all the things I love about the law without having to go to court.

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

I have been learning world languages from the age of four and I have a degree in linguistics. My obsession with foreign languages naturally fed into my curiosity about comparative and international law.

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

I have been working at Yale Law School since 2017.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak German, Spanish, and some Czech. I have in the past studied siSwati, Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Bahasa Melayu. I am currently working on improving my French.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am very proud to be the incoming editor of the RIPS Law Librarian Blog and to be profiled for DipLawMatic Dialogues!

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Nutella. I am powerless before it.

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

Je ne parle pas français by Namika.

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

 Someday, I aspire to be able to do a handstand walk.

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

Dancing! I am an avid social dancer—blues, tango, west coast swing, and salsa are some of my favorites.

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

It is both weird and wonderful to be a librarian at the same law school that I attended.