Partnering to Promote Professionalism

At Charlotte School of Law, we embrace the idea of “interdependence.” I recently attended the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries conference, which was held in Lexington, Kentucky. I had the privilege of presenting, as part of a panel, on the topic of “Partnering to Promote Professionalism and Effective Practitioners: What Every Law School Graduate Should Know.” My co-panelists were law firm librarians. In addition to having been friends for many years, we each, at some point, had been responsible for training and coordinating the training of young associates.

Law firm librarians have always played an indispensable part in the nurturing and development of new associates. They still do, but as the hiring practices of “Big Law” firms have undergone a change, the responsibility of providing students with the practice-ready professionalism, the technology skills and the business acumen necessary to succeed has shifted back to law schools. The message that I, an academic librarian and former law firm librarian, and my two law firm librarians attempted to impart was that we are more effective when we work together.

In order to prepare for my portion of the presentation, I drew upon the first annual BarBri “State of the Legal Field” survey, Wawrose’s, “What Do Legal Employers Want to See in New Graduates? Using Focus Groups to Find Out” 39 Ohio N. U. L. Rev. 505 (2013) and Stouffer’s “Closing the Gap: Teaching ‘practice-ready’ legal skills,” 19 AALL Spectrum 10 (February 2015). I also interviewed Associate Dean Michael Farley, Director of the Center for Professional Development Aretha Blake, and Program Coordinator for Process Excellence Krystyll Gardner in order to gain an overview of the Charlotte School of Law “Student Success Initiative.” The CSL library staff also implemented its own projects and while those projects contributed to the goal of focusing on professionalism, GRIT and relationship-building, it was clear that greater inroads were made when the library partnered with other departments.

Likewise, when law school librarians join forces with their counterparts in firms and government libraries, the impact is greater than when they work alone. My co-panelists discussed the “Business Side of Law Firms” and “Making the Transition” from law student to practitioner. We encouraged all attendees to work with each other, not only for the betterment of their own employer, but for the greater good that can be achieved. To quote Mark Shields, “There is always strength in numbers.”

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