Early on in Graduate School, I remember my Professional Adviser taking the time to sit me down and talk about the various career paths law librarians could embark on. Honestly, I was really only familiar with the law school’s library, using its vast, comfortable reading room as my command station to hammer out papers about information sources and using technologies to meet patron needs. Admittedly, I was confused and befuddled when my Adviser stated, beyond academic law librarians, there are also private law librarians and government law librarians. Prior to this, I had no idea law firms employed librarians—little did I know this was where the future me would thankfully find gainful employment. So, even as a future law firm librarian, I was certainly oblivious to the fact the law librarian profession is comprised of three large classes of professionals: academic, government, and private.
Now, from working in the industry and serving in professional organizations, it’s really intriguing to hear about the differences among these various classes of law library professionals. The patrons value different criteria, and this vastly influences the research environments: for example, private law firms emphasize cost effective legal research whereas academic and government libraries put a premium on providing educational opportunities. Members of ORSLA, the SLA Oregon Chapter, posted their experiences of working in different law librarian environments by detailing the various questions they received in a given week; all three articles are a fascinating and recommended read and make for a great exercise in examining not only the similarities, but, more importantly, the differences among our related professions:
- A Week in the Life of an Academic Law Librarian, by Mari Cheney
- A Week in the Life of a Law Firm Librarian, by Sue Mecklem
- A Week’s Worth of Oregon County Law Library Legal Reference Assistance, by Jennifer Dalglish