By MARIE LOUISE BERNAL
In an effort to promote increased access to the Library's collections and to feature the expertise of its staff, the Law Library launched a series of sessions this spring devoted to research in foreign law.
The series was offered in cooperation with the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. (LLSDC). The LLSCD is the local chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries and includes representatives from all types of law libraries. The format of each session is similar, a one-hour lecture focusing on a particular jurisdiction, but the venue changes with a different member institution acting as host each time.
Launching the series, "Fundamentals of Foreign Legal Research, " Law Librarian Rubens Medina expressed his appreciation for initiating and sponsoring this cooperative project to Patricia Gudas Mitchell, head librarian at Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe LLP; and Kelly A.Vinopal, senior reference librarian at Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky. They serve as co-chairs of LLSDC's Foreign, Comparative and International Law Special Interest Section. He also acknowledged the contribution of Marci Hoffman, international and foreign law librarian at Georgetown University Law Center, for moderating the sessions.
"In today's global society, the interest in foreign, comparative and international law reflects the role of the United States in the world and the significance given to foreign legal systems by the legislators, as well as the federal judiciary," Mr. Medina said. "The Law Library of Congress is committed to doing whatever we can to play an active role in providing as much access to this knowledge as possible to our traditional clients, as well as to other interested constituents."
In his remarks, Mr. Medina referred to similar programs in the past undertaken in cooperation with the law library community. Most recently, in 1999, the Law Library presented the daylong work- shop "Meet the Legal Specialists: Expert Advice on Research and Acquisitions of Foreign Law in the Vernacular (Advanced)" under the sponsorship of the American Association of Law Libraries.
The opening session, held on March 7 in the Library of Congress National Digital Library Learning Center, featured Stephen F. Clarke, senior legal specialist in the Law Library. After receiving his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada, Mr. Clarke obtained an LLM in comparative law from Georgetown University. "Why would anyone in the United States be interested in learning about Canadian law?" The speaker provided two reasons: "One is to solve or avoid legal problems and the other is to do comparative research."
The legal specialists are a cadre of some 20 staff members in the Law Library with foreign law degrees and bar memberships who, together with the legal analysts and legal reference specialists, provide Congress and the federal agencies with analysis and information on foreign and comparative law and current legal developments around the world.
The second program in the series, scheduled for April 10, will concentrate on Russian law with Peter Roudik, senior legal specialist, as a speaker. Mr. Roudik received his J.D. and Ph.D. from Moscow State University and an LLM degree from the Central European University in Budapest. The Russian program will be hosted by the library of the World Bank Legal Department. The last session will be held on May 16 at Georgetown University Law Center and feature Theresa Papademetriou, a senior legal specialist and graduate of the Law School of the University of Athens, with an LLM in international and comparative law from George Washington University School of Law. Ms. Papademetriou will cover research in her two specialties, Greek law and the laws and regulations of the European Union. For further information on this program, contact Marie Louise Bernal at email@example.com.
Ms. Bernal is special assistant to the Law Librarian.