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Research & Litigation

Word(s) of the month – codification

Words of law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law. Today’s word is codification. codification (kod-ә-fi-kay-shәn), n. (1802) 1. The process of compiling, arranging, and systematizing the laws of a given jurisdiction, or of a   ...Continue Reading Word(s) of the month – codification
Categories: Research & Litigation

19th Annual National Book Festival Recap

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/13/2019 - 3:37pm

Law Library of Congress at the 19th Annual National Book Festival [Photo by Geraldine Dávila González]

On August 31, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center was packed with thousands of book lovers for the 19th Annual National Book Festival. More than a hundred best-selling authors, novelists, historians, poets, and children’s writers took the stage in front of a record-breaking audience. The festival featured 12 stages, including a brand new main stage, where the highlight of the day was an interview to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who took the stage to talk about her life, career, and her latest book, “My Own Words.”

Among other law-related presentations during the day, at the History and Biography stage, Elaine Weiss spoke about her new book “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote” and Evan Thomas discussed the life of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The Law Library of Congress was present at the James Madison Area of the Exhibit Floor. At the table, attendees learned more about the Law Library in a trivia game. Many people were most surprised to learn that the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress holds many of the papers of the U.S. Supreme Court justices. Attendees interacted one-on-one with our legal research librarians and took home some of our giveaways, including gavel pencils.

Law Library table at the National Book Festival [Photo by Geraldine Dávila González]

Join us next year for the twentieth anniversary of the National Book Festival!

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Kayahan Cantekin, Foreign Law Specialist

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/13/2019 - 9:00am

Today’s interview is with Kayahan Cantekin, a foreign law specialist covering Turkey and other Turkic-speaking jurisdictions in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background

I am from Istanbul, Turkey. I was born in Texas, and my parents moved back to Turkey from the United States when I was six years old. I lived and studied in Istanbul until I graduated from law school when I was 23. After that, seeking some international experience, I first moved to London to study for my Master of Laws, and then to Florence, Italy, for my doctoral degree. In between these two degrees, I moved back to Turkey for a couple years to get my attorney’s license. In 2017, while I was writing my doctoral thesis, I moved to the U.S. with my wife. Before settling down in Washington, DC we were living in Lexington, Kentucky to be close to my father-in-law.

Kayahan Cantekin, photo by Zeynep Timoçin Cantekin (2019).

What is your academic/professional history?

I studied for my undergraduate law degree at Koç University in Istanbul. In Turkey, the law school curriculum is quite extensive, and one ends up completing more than 48 courses over the course of four years, studying everything from torts to European Union law. However, I was specifically interested in the information technologies law course that I took in my last year. It quickly turned out to be my favorite, which pushed me to further investigate the area and apply for the regulation and technology Master of Laws program at King’s College London. During my time at King’s College, I not only learned EU law in the field of telecommunications and internet law, but I was also introduced into legal academia. Confirming that I enjoyed thinking and reading about the law, I started to entertain the idea of doing a doctoral degree.

After King’s College, I returned to Turkey to do my bar traineeship to get my attorney’s license. In Istanbul, it takes a little over a year to complete each requirement to get a bar membership. At first, I started working as a tax law intern at a multinational accounting firm; it was a bit irrelevant to what I had been studying in my Master of Laws, but tax law and international tax law were two other favorite courses in law school. After I got accepted to the bar, I returned to Koç University as an intellectual property law consultant for their technology transfer office and I worked on cases with my professors. At Koç University, my professors encouraged me to continue my studies at the doctoral level and advised me to apply to the European University Institute’s doctoral program. After being admitted to the EUI, I started working on IP law problems arising in relation to cloud computing based services. This work then evolved into my thesis project, which was to create a new methodology to study conflict of laws rules applicable to global data flows.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I write country survey reports and legal opinions regarding the laws of Turkey and other Turkic-speaking jurisdictions. I recently started working on Greek law as well, which is not too foreign to me since Turkey and Greece are civil law countries that are rooted in similar continental European legal traditions and I am also trained in European Union law. I regularly work on multi-jurisdiction reports requested by legislators in Congress, legal opinions on particular legal questions requested by U.S. agencies, and also inquiries coming from members of the public such as attorneys and private citizens that are interested in rules in my jurisdictions.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I started working for the Law Library of Congress in the spring of 2018 as a contractor. I worked on a few different reports on Turkish law, and I enjoyed the work a lot. I was honored when offered a full-time position as a foreign law specialist, which is a perfect role for me and my career as a researcher and practitioner after my doctoral studies. Also, I must admit that after years of researching topics on U.S. and EU law for my doctoral studies, dealing with legal issues in other jurisdictions was a very fresh and welcome challenge. 

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

That the Librarian of Congress is appointed with the Senate’s approval and that it used to be a lifetime appointment!

 What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I was the manager of the social club at the EUI in my first year. We threw huge parties. I first took this up for extra income to support my family, but I enjoyed it immensely and made great friends.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Simon Sobeloff and Jewish Baltimore

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 4:24pm

The following is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.  Ryan previously wrote a post for In Custodia Legis on a scholarly panel the Library hosted, Rights and Resistance: Civil Liberties during World War I.

Ceiling detail, City of Baltimore seal, at the William H. Welch Medical Library, the library of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. (2012), Carol M. Highsmith. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.18424

 

On March 25, 1933, the Baltimore branch of the American Jewish Congress under the leadership of its president, the United States Attorney for Maryland, Simon Sobeloff, called a meeting “to protest against the mistreatment of Jews in Germany.” Held at one of the city’s most established synagogues, Chizuk Amuno, the conference drew 59 Jewish organizations from around the city.

Sobeloff would later achieve judicial fame, first as a respected judge in the Maryland court system, then in the mid-1950s as Solicitor General under President Eisenhower, and from 1955 until his retirement in 1973, as an Associate and later Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. From his perch atop the Fourth Circuit, the Baltimore native enforced desegregation across the mid-Atlantic and upper and lower South.

Sobeloff’s papers are housed in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.  While the collection has long served as a window into the juridical history of American law, a new addition to the collection expands its insights into the world of Jewish Baltimore and the political and cultural debates that unfolded within it well past 1945.

In many respects, Sobeloff embodies the arc of America’s Jewish communities but especially concerning  “Charm City” and its Jewish residents. During the 1920 and 30s, the city’s Jewish community transformed in numerous ways: spatially, economically, and culturally. While East Baltimore had long served as an area for European and notably Jewish settlement, the post-World War I annexation of Northwest Baltimore offered new housing opportunities.

By 1937, Jewish residents accounted for nearly 10 percent of the city’s growing population. Admittedly, restriction laws of the early 1920s halted Jewish immigration to the city, yet 73,000 resided in the city and the limitation of new arrivals also enabled the community to develop a distinct American identity. By 1925, half of the city’s Jewish population resided in Northwest Baltimore which featured “kosher butcher shops and bakeries” but also “modern gathering places including drug stores, movie theaters, and bowling alleys,” note historians Eric L. Goldstein and Deborah R. Weiner.

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants who settled in late-19th century East Baltimore, Sobeloff later attended Baltimore City College and earned his law degree from the University of Maryland in 1915. By 1933, Sobeloff had risen to President of the Baltimore Branch of the American Jewish Congress, the combative rival to the more “patrician” American Jewish Council. The bulletin published by the Baltimore branch of the American Jewish Congress reached 6,500 readers, gentile and Jewish alike, Sobeloff asserted. “We have been and are using every means in our power to awaken our community, non-Jewish as well as Jewish, to an understanding of our problem and an earnest interest in dealing with it,” he wrote to one of the organization’s most recognizable leaders, Rabbi Stephen Wise, in November 1933.

Sobeloff was not alone in articulating such concerns; others shared his fear that events in Europe were seeping into America. “I have always been interested in the welfare of our people but nothing in my lifetime has given me more concern or stirred within me a greater desire to be of service to my fellow countrymen than the present situation confronting Jewry today, not only in Germany but in this country as well,” Emanuel Gorfine wrote. Gorfine, a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly from Baltimore’s Fourth District added darkly: “The Jews in Germany are doomed, and, while everything possible is being done to alleviate their distress, it is realized that so far as saving them is concerned that is practically a forlorn hope.” To their collective credit, between 1933 and 1937, Baltimore’s refugee aid groups settled 3,000 persons fleeing Nazi Germany.

Anti-Semitic provocations intensified as the decade progressed. In 1936, only seven months after the passage of Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, the German warship Emden docked in the city as part of a larger “goodwill tour” by the Nazis. Thousands of Baltimoreans streamed to Recreation Pier to get a look at the vessel. “City and state officials drank a toast to Hitler at an officer’s reception sponsored by local German societies” note Goldstein and Weiner, while 450 Marylanders “enjoyed a shipboard luncheon” that celebrated “sea life’s gay side.” When it finally departed, 2,000 spectators bid it farewell, “as its swastika flag fluttered” in the harbor wind.

In the wake of the Emden affair, Sobeloff soon confronted another cultural provocation when the film, Hans Westmar: One of Many reached American theaters. The movie put forth a sympathetic portrait of the Nazi Horst Wessel and functioned as the final installment in a trilogy of Nazi- produced films meant to memorialize the Nazi party’s time in opposition. Wise described Wessell as an “eminence of leadership in the world of pimpdom and of incitement to mass murder.”

Sobeloff knew one of the film’s distributors, Amos J. Peaslee, and reached out to him in a letter. Peaslee reacted coldly to Sobeloff’s critique of the film and decried Jewish American attempts to protest the movie: “In any event, any concerted effort to suppress the free play of thought, speech or press upon political, racial or religious grounds seems to me un-American.” He also asserted that the Nazi government had nothing to do with the film’s production, a statement that Wise and Sobeloff correctly repudiated.

Peaslee further wrote to Sobeloff: “I count among some of my best friends members of your religious sect and I have found many fine characters and have a number of friends who are members of the Nazi Party in Germany. My political and religious viewpoints doubtless differ widely from those friends, both in your religious sect and in the Nazi party, in a number of respects, and certainly all of my own religious background has taught the virtues of tolerance.”

Despite such obstacles, Sobeloff refused to relent. In 1939, he served as the Baltimore Jewish Council’s (BJC) first president. The BJC became the first “communal organization to engage in the ‘fight’ strategy” even if it initially “went about its business quietly,” Goldstein and Weiner observe.

Indeed, in ensuing years, the BJC would be an active presence in the city, promoting desegregation while also criticizing Jewish and gentile realtors it believed acted unscrupulously regarding blockbusting. It allied with the NAACP and Urban League in the mid-1950s to combat racism by pushing for fair employment laws. While it took nearly two decades for the BJC to adopt an aggressive approach, it proved effective. The fair employment ordinance that passed in 1956 had been drafted in BJC headquarters and became the first of its kind below the Mason-Dixon Line. By then Sobeloff had moved to the Fourth Circuit where he enforced desegregation across the upper and lower South. Yet he remained active in the BJC and as demonstrated, Sobeloff’s experiences during the 1930s informed his actions decades later. A witness to history, Sobeloff chose also to be an actor within it. The addition to the Sobeloff papers tells this story and many, many, more from Jewish Baltimore.

Additional Resources

 

 

Categories: Research & Litigation

We’re Going to Do Something: Flight 93 National Memorial

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 09/11/2019 - 10:03am

One perfectly ordinary, sunny Tuesday morning at the end of summer, four planes headed out on trans-U.S. flights; they never made it to their intended destination. Like the attack on Pearl Harbor and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy, every American beyond primary school age at that time remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the plane hijackings of September 11, 2001.

Flight 93 National Memorial, Entrance Sign [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark International Airport to San Francisco International Airport was the last of the four planes to take off and the last to crash. The passengers on Flight 93 learned of the Twin Tower crashes and that terrorism was the cause. Calls from the passengers show that they took a vote and intended to attack the hijackers. The passengers used whatever weapons they could muster—one flight attendant, Sandy Bradshaw, said they were heating water to pour on the attackers. The actions of the passengers deterred the terrorists from reaching their probable goal, the U.S. Capitol. The planners of the September 11 attack instructed the hijackers to crash the plane if they could not reach their intended target; it is possible that the struggle of the passengers with the terrorists caused the plane’s crash (9/11 Commission Report, 244). In any case, UAL Flight 93 crashed into the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, “hitting right wing and nose first, at a speed of between 563-580 miles per hour”. The plane crashed 125 flight miles/20 flight minutes away from the U.S. Capitol (9/11 Commission Report, 14).

Flight 93 National Memorial, Exhibit sign [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

In the days and months that followed, the nation mourned; the FBI, the FAA, and the NTSB carried out investigations; new laws were created related to the tragedy. Congress authorized the 9/11 Commission to study the attacks and write a report. A year after Flight 93 crashed into an empty field, Congress passed Public Law 107-226, Flight 93 National Memorial Act. The crater left by the plane’s impact was filled with dirt, and grass and wildflower seeds were strewn over the ground.

Flight 93 National Memorial, Wall of Names [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

The National Park Service oversees and maintains the memorial, which includes a memorial wall with the names of the passengers. Citizens have contributed funds to add features to the memorial. In 2018, the Tower of Voices was dedicated to the extraordinary people who made a difference in an atrocious moment.

Flight 93 National Memorial, Tower of Voices [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

Categories: Research & Litigation

Searching the Committee Schedule: Congress.gov New, Tip, and Top for September 2019

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 12:51pm

One of the new features to Congress.gov that we have been refining this year is the Committee Schedule, which “combines announcements about future House and Senate committee meetings and hearings for the selected week.” Robert announced its launch in January.  Since then, we have added indicators for rescheduled and postponed meetings, upcoming meetings to the homepagelinks to supporting documentation such as legislation, and the date picker to the weekly view of the schedule.

With this update we are adding the Committee Meetings from the Committee Schedule to our global “All Sources” search results as well as adding Committee Meetings to our Committee Profile pages.

Committee Meetings on the House Small Business Committee Profile Page

You can now go to specific House or Senate Committee pages to see the Committee Meetings listed.  You can select “Committee Meetings” and check “Search Within” at the top to search the meetings for that committee.

Select “All Sources” to search committee meetings/hearings

To search for the Committee Meetings in the global search, change “Current Legislation” to “All Sources” in the drop down menu.  You can add a search term or leave the search box empty and run the search.  After you get your results make sure just “Committee Meetings” is checked.  You can also use the Committee filter to narrow your results.  For example, if you were interested in the Rules Committee Meetings you could save this search and then select “Get Alerts” for when new upcoming meetings are added.  You could also select “Download Results” from the link at the top of the results if you need a quick spreadsheet of dates and times a committee met.

Searching Committee Meetings is a great next step in our incorporation of this new material into Congress.gov.  Our team has been hard at work to continue to bring you new enhancements to the site.  Stay tuned as there are more updates to come.

One other new feature with this release is a link to Law Library of Congress Reports on the homepage.  It is under the heading of Library of Congress Reports along with the Search CRS Reports link.

New Law Library of Congress Reports link on the Congress.gov Homepage

We also updated the Appropriations link on the homepage to go to the Appropriations Status Table on the CRS Reports site.

Enhancements for September 2019

You can read through all of the Congress.gov Enhancements for September:

Enhancement – Committee Schedule – Search
  • Committee Schedule meeting information is searched from the search bar when you select All Sources.

Enhancement – Committee Profiles – Committee Meetings

  • Committee meetings are listed on each committee’s profile page.

Enhancement – Law Library Reports – Homepage Link

Enhancement – Find Your Representative by Zip Code

Enhancement – Appropriations Tables

Search Tip

This week’s search tip on billCosponsorCount is by Claudia.

Use the field label billCosponsorCount: in the Legislation Search form (click More Options if collapsed) to find bills with an exact number of cosponsors or bills with a number of cosponsors within a range.

Examples:

  • billCosponsorCount:50. Finds bills with exactly 50 cosponsors.
  • billCosponsorCount:[50 TO *]. Finds bills with 50 cosponsors or more.
  • billCosponsorCount:[1 TO 49]. Finds bills with cosponsors within the specified range.

    billCosponsorCount:[50 TO *]. Finds bills with 50 cosponsors or more.

Most-Viewed Bills

Below are the Most-Viewed Bills for September 1, 2019.  All are from the current 116th Congress.

1. H.R.5 Equality Act 2. H.R.1044 Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 3. S.386 Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 4. H.R.3289 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 5. H.R.2500 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 6. H.R.1296 Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 7. H.R.838 Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019 8. H.R.6 American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 9. H.R.8 Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 10. H.R.40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act

Please share below or submit feedback for what you would like to see on Congress.gov.

Categories: Research & Litigation

How to Label a Book – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/06/2019 - 7:00am

Today’s Pic of the Week is another in an occasional series featuring odd and/or outdated library equipment.

Can you identify this object? Photo by Betty Lupinacci

We found the above-pictured object in the deep recesses of a supply cabinet.  Unfortunately as is often the case, I am the last remaining Law Library staffer to have seen or used this item. It harks from the dark days before we had automated label printers for adding call numbers to books.

We used to have to type individual labels onto either pre-cut sheets or continuous label stock.  The latter came in narrow rolls of thermal material with a thick backing.  After typing the label you would feed the roll into the cutter pictured here, press the handles together and voila – you had a label ready and just needed to peel off the backing and attach it to the volume!

Only that wasn’t really the end of the process.

This label stock, as I mentioned, was thermal.  It had to be applied to the book with heat if you wanted it to stay attached for any length of time.  So we also had a supply of small irons with long handles that you would use to iron the label on to the book.

Cutting labels. Photo by Betty Lupinacci

Heat-applied label. These do not come off without a struggle! Photo by Betty Lupinacci.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I am not the most adroit person (which I blame on being left-handed), I burned my fingers with frightening regularity or would drop the iron onto my lap, scorching my clothing.

No one was happier than me when these devices were retired in favor of our turbo-charged/self-cutting/non-thermal label printers.

Ain’t technology grand!

Categories: Research & Litigation

Constitution Day 2019 Event featuring Kannon Shanmugam: “The State of the Constitution”

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 9:00am

Kannon Shanmugam is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Constitution Day, officially known as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” is a federal commemoration observed each year to mark the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, and to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.” On September 17 2019, the Law Library will honor this day with a lecture entitled “The State of the Constitution” by Kannon Shanmugam. He will speak about the role of the judiciary in our constitutional system and the relationship between the judiciary and the other branches of government.

Kannon Shanmugam is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He heads the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice and is managing partner of the firm’s Washington office. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier appellate advocates, Kannon has argued 27 cases before the Supreme Court, including several of the Court’s most significant recent business and criminal cases. Beyond the Supreme Court, he has argued dozens of appeals in courts across the country. In ranking Kannon in the first tier of appellate advocates nationwide, Chambers USA praised him as “brilliant” and “unflappable.”

Kannon previously served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice. Born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, he received an A.B. summa cum laude in classics from Harvard; an M. Litt. in classics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was executive editor of the law review and argued for the winning side in the moot-court competition.  After graduation, he served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and Judge J. Michael Luttig on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The lecture will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 17, in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. The program is free and open to the public.

Please register via Eventbrite to attend this event.

Request ADA accommodations 5 business days in advance at 202-707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov.

Categories: Research & Litigation

The Law Library of Congress at the 19th Annual National Book Festival

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 12:58pm

2019 National Book Festival Poster [Illustration by Marian Bantjes]

This Saturday, August 31, join us for our 19th Annual National Book Festival. Starting at 9:00 a.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, more than a hundred best-selling authors, novelists, historians, poets, and children’s writers will take the stage, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

While at the festival, come visit the Law Library of Congress table located at the Expo Floor, where you can learn more about our services in a fun game of trivia, get one of our popular gavel pencils, and interact with our librarians. The full National Book Festival schedule can be found here: https://www.loc.gov/events/2019-national-book-festival/schedule/

For more information about the National Book Festival, please visit: https://www.loc.gov/events/2019-national-book-festival/festival-information. Also, check out the National Book Festival Blog, where you can find more information about this year’s festival, the featured authors and tips on how to organize your day.

We hope to see you there this weekend!

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Breshan Bryant, Collection Services Technician

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 08/26/2019 - 7:10am

Breshan Bryant. Photo by Katrina Gardner.

Today’s interview is with Breshan Bryant, the newest technician in the Law Library’s Collection Services Division (CSD).  We’re very happy to have her aboard.

Describe your background.

I was born in Mobile, Alabama, but grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. I am the best of four siblings and the proud aunt of seven nieces and nephews and one great-nephew.

What is your academic/professional history?

I attended Trinity Washington University in D.C. from 2006-2010, where I received my B.A. in English. I managed to snag a work study job at the university’s library and worked there throughout my four years. I guess you can say Trinity cultivated my passion for the library service field.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I would tell non-library folks that I ensure unbound books are sent out for binding and important documents are linked to the correct record in the library-wide system.  I only use library terminology among my peers, unless I’m trying to add a bit of razzle dazzle to the conversation.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I started out as a volunteer at the Library of Congress (in the Jefferson Building). It was short lived, because I got this great idea I should get paid to come here every day. I applied for a contract position that just so happened to be in the Law Library. I enjoyed the work and the people so much I remained as a contractor here for nearly seven years. A few months into year seven, I finally dusted off my resume and applied for a permanent position in CSD.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?

The actual number of books being housed here. I guess I never grasped how large our collection is, although my previous position called for me to be in the stacks almost every day.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I am a former sneaker collector. I owned way too many pairs, and it was getting a bit ridiculous to house them. So I eventually shrunk my collection down, and now I maintain a rotating collection of 50 pairs of sneakers.

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Henri Barbeau, Foreign Law Intern

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 08/22/2019 - 2:07pm

Today’s interview is with Henri Barbeau, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist Nicolas Boring at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Henri Barbeau is a foreign law intern at the Law Library of Congress. Photo by Kelly McKenna.

Describe your background.

I am a Canadian law student at the University of Montreal, in the province of Quebec. I studied history as an undergraduate student, with a particular focus on modern Europe, before opting for the study of law. My interests are fairly eclectic, though I find the areas of public and international law to be the most fun.

How would you describe your job to other people?

In a few words, I help my supervisor, Nicolas Boring, provide answers to legal questions for francophone jurisdictions. These include France, Belgium, and Haiti, but also a large number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Mali, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name a few. Questions tend to come from the U.S. Congress, far and away the most important “patron” of the Law Library, but also from federal agencies, private inquirers, and even intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank. I also occasionally write articles for the Global Legal Monitor on legal developments in the “Francophonie.”

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I became aware of the internship position at the Law Library through my school’s career office, the University of Montreal having sent two interns to Washington, D.C.,every summer since 2014. I applied right away, knowing that the opportunity to work at one of the largest libraries in the world, in the heart of Washington, D.C., was too good a chance to pass on. The experience also seemed interesting from the standpoint of comparative law, as much of the work of the Global Legal Research Directorate involves drawing parallels between different legal traditions.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

I did not know before arriving at the Library that it is required by law to remain open as long as Congress is working so that congressional representatives can consult it whenever necessary. This means that when Congress works into the early hours of the morning – hatching a last-minute budget deal, for example – certain members of the library staff have to pull all-nighters to keep the Library open and available. I suppose this just goes to show how valuable the services of the Law Library of Congress are!

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I have been an avid guitar player for more than a decade now! I try now and then to take on the works of South American greats like Antonio Lauro, though when it comes to the more technically sophisticated stuff my playing is more aspirational than skillful.   

Categories: Research & Litigation

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