Three Tips for Students Interested in Law Librarianship

Our tour for March took us all the way to the 34th floor of First Canadian Place, and the location of Bennett Jones LLP Library and Information Services Department. The student group had the chance to sit and chat with Jane Freeman (Library Supervisor, Toronto), Christine DeLuca (Law Librarian/Intelligence Analyst), Zena Applebaum (Manager, Intelligence and Intranet) and Lenore Bergson (Library Technician), as well as BMO Law Department’s librarian Katie Thomas, whose library is on the 21st floor of First Canadian Place.

The professionals spoke about the rewards and challenges related to law librarianship, as well as the projects and responsibilities they take on to help gather and disseminate research in the firm, such as the firm Intranet, and embedding librarians in practice groups, all which help increase the usage of the library services.

The physical library consists of a number of shelving units, housing up-to-date legal publications and literature, as well as bound copies of provincial and federal statutes. However most of the information is housed in online databases, such as QuickLaw, Factiva, FP Infomart, Bloomberg, and CaptialIQ to name just a few. The librarians use these sources to access the information required or requested by their clients, as well as provide training on these resources for articling students and lawyers.

The Bennett Jones Library and Information Services department shared some useful tips for students interested in law librarianship:

1. Take a course that will give you some basic understanding of legal research. Courses offered at the iSchool include INF 2136 – Government Information and Publications and/or INF 2133 – Legal Literature and Librarianship.

2. “Work your network” – join and volunteer in the library associations geared towards law librarianship, such as SLA, TALL(Toronto Association of Law Libraries), or CALL (Canadian Association of Law Libraries) and get to know the information professionals. Ask if you can meet with them over a coffee break for an information interview to find out more about their career, projects, responsibilities.

3. Get some hands-on experience – send your resume around to law libraries and see if they would be interested in taking on a library student to help in their centre. That’s what Christine did in the summer between her first and second year at the iSchool. It eventually led to her current position at Bennett Jones. Also consider taking INF 2158: Management of Corporate and Other Information Centres, where a component of the course involves a 45-hour placement at a special library, with some placement offerings at Toronto-area law libraries.

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