When a paralegal has a question about a tricky case or a law clerk to a Supreme Court Justice needs help with legal research, they can both turn to a law librarian for assistance. This interdisciplinary field rests at the intersection of law and information science.
Some law librarians choose this career path after working in law, such as in the paralegal profession. Ordinary librarians attracted to legal research also find this career appealing. Regardless of your background, if you have keen legal research skills and an eye for detail, you might consider pursuing a career as a law librarian.
Law librarians have a sedentary office job. Some law librarians interact primarily with colleagues, while others hold positions that require interaction with the public, legal staff, law students and others. A wide variety of organizations may hire law librarians, including the following.
- Universities: Academic institutions with pre-law and other humanities degrees benefit from the expertise that a law librarian can offer.
- Law schools: Law schools require highly capable law librarians to provide resources to law students who balance rigorous academic demands.
- Law firms: Law firms benefit from law librarians who can offer general information about legal resources for specialists in the firm who need to conduct research.
- Governmental agencies: Congress, the United States Supreme Court and other government organizations have a heavy need for accurate legal information.
General Job Duties
Law librarians are custodians of information. They are responsible for managing materials, organizing and reviewing them, providing information and managing new materials. Law librarians may train lawyers, staff and students on best practices in legal research, including how to use specific digital tools such as online court dockets. Law librarians may also have any of the following responsibilities:
- Supervising clerks and librarian assistants.
- Promoting library services and resources.
- Developing library budgets.
- Conducting legal research and preparing reports or responses.
Location-Specific Job Duties
The daily of a law librarian can vary depending on where he or she works. Librarians who work at law school libraries may deliver legal reference services to faculty and students, train lawyers and students on legal research, represent the law library in committee meetings and support student research education. Alternatively, law librarians who work for private law firms may have more varied responsibilities, such as the following:
- Develop competitive intelligence reports for a law firm involved with business development.
- Research potential clients and vendors.
- Deliver research materials for attorney blogs, websites and other client-facing media.
- Perform background research for media opportunities.
- Monitor regulatory issues, market trends and competitors. Skills and Qualities of Effective Law Librarians.
If spending a day searching online court dockets and databases while fielding questions from students, law professors or attorneys sounds appealing to you, you may have what it takes to be an effective law librarian. These professionals are highly organized and detail-oriented researchers. It is not sufficient find the answer to a legal research question. Law librarians must communicate clearly through spoken or written language.
If you are interested in a law career, consider enrolling Grand Canyon University’s Master of Science in Criminal justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies degree program. Whether you are interested in a career transition or you want to ascend in your current field, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences can provide you with the academic foundation you need for your goals. Visit our website or click on the Request More Information button on this page to learn more about our programs.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.