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Each year, there are numerous articles written on the life and times of a summer associate. The articles address a vast array of issues such as what to expect, what to do, what not to do, firm options and offerings, private versus public practice and, of course, who pays what. These articles all offer an abundance of excellent advice and impart wisdom of the ages by former summer associates, directors of law firm legal recruiting departments, and other persons, each with firsthand knowledge and experience in what has become know as a “Season for Summers.” There is, however, another group of highly talented professionals whose role plays a vital part in any environment where the practice of law is found. That group is the law library’s information professionals, who are still also fondly know as librarians. This article offers suggestions and introduces these information professionals as a group that can effectively enhance and enrich life as a summer associate and make it a little bit easier and more enjoyable. YOU HAVE A NEW FRIEND One of the definitions of “friend” that can be found in “Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition,” is “a person who gives assistance; or a supporter.” To a summer associate entering law firm life for the first time, the law library’s information professional is a special friend indeed, and an invaluable resource. After settling in to your new home away from home, get acquainted with the firm’s library and staff. Most firms offer a library tour and a chance to meet its staff. This will be an excellent opportunity to begin this new and valuable friendship, so do not pass it by. During the tour, take the time to listen and make notes of the various library procedures. Do not be shy about asking questions. To a librarian, there are no silly or trivial questions. Instead, all are treated with equal importance. During the tour, find out where the materials are shelved that deal with the area of law you will be working with. It is a real time-saver to be able to start your first assignment up and running. Ask if the library has a special section or collection for this area of law too. While many law firms these days have special collections, such as memoranda and opinion files, or precedent deal collections integrated into their document systems, others are still being kept and filed in the library. Another gem in the library treasure trove is an informational professional on board who specializes in the particular practice of law in which you will be working. Find out whether there is such an individual and, if so, take a moment and introduce yourself, or perhaps schedule a time to meet at a later date. This person will be key in helping with research, and can probably offer many time-saving tips and techniques. Certainly, this will be a new friend worth making. INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE No, not about gossip in the firm, but the information professional will have intimate knowledge of the library’s collection in all of its varying formats. He or she will also know just how to effectively and efficiently use these vast resources. There is not a better place to start a research project than at the reference desk. It sure beats fumbling through a maze of indices, using the old hit or miss method. At the reference desk, you can speak with a librarian on a one-to-one basis. Perhaps there is a research assignment that involves obtaining a previous governor’s executive order, or maybe procedural information is needed on sovereign immunity. Where does one start to look? The savvy summer associate heads straight for the library reference desk. The information professionals can immediately guide you to 9 NYCRRfor executive orders, past and present, or suggest that a good place to start research on sovereign immunity can be found in Carmody Wait, 2nd. Another example of how this knowledge of the collection can be of help has to do with “reader services.” Here, the librarians become acquainted with all of the new additions to the library collection, even before they are cataloged. This is where the information professional can direct you to, let’s say, that new treatise on attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine that doesn’t appear in the catalog yet. TO BE OR NOT TO BE ON-LINE Should I take the plunge and sign onto Lexis, Westlaw, or any number of the other pay-for services that the firm subscribes to? Good question to ask beforehand. Summer associates, for the most part, are coming to law firm life from a law school environment where passwords to on-line services are handed out the way drug dealers might give out samples of addictive drugs to prospective customers. So, before signing on, find out the policy of the firm or the assigning attorney. Since the firm’s library is probably responsible for negotiating and signing the on-line contracts, the information professional is the very best source from whom to learn about them. He/she can inform you of rates, special offers, discounts, flat fees and even free search time that is available. A big question that always comes up is, what password should I use, hourly or transactional? Again, the information professional can offer guidance. Other extremely valuable reasons to discuss on-line research with the information professional are: to find out what the latest and greatest additions, features and updates for a specific database or vendor are, and to have the librarian’s help with formulating the best possible search query. Part of the information professional’s duties are to keep abreast of all of the newest bells, whistles and features that change so rapidly these days. Remember, the library information professional spends the better part of his/her day conducting on-line research, five days a week, 365 days a year — well, almost. That makes him or her an on-line research maven. SURF’S UP Grab your surf or boogie board and head on out — to the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW), that is. Over the past few years, the amount of information that can be found on the Internet has become mind-boggling. As the Net grows with amazing speed and with the development of more and more advanced search engines and Web crawlers, it has become a bit easier to find whatever information one is looking for. Unfortunately, for the most part, one must still trudge through a mountain of junk just to find a piece or two of really valuable information. Another obstacle in the search for treasured information is the question of how valid and current that information is. As it becomes easier and easier for a person to create a page on the Net, a researcher must be extremely cautious and wary of the source of that information. Nonetheless, the Internet can be an inexpensive alternative to commercial databases for finding primary legal information. More and more government entities are placing their documents on the Net. And, along with the government, the private sector is also allowing anyone with a PC and a modem to have access to material and information that was once nearly impossible to obtain — or at least was not readily available. The term “inexpensive,” though, is accurate as long as the individual who is conducting the research has the experience and savvy to know just where to look, what search engines and crawlers to use, the correct search syntax for the searches, and so on and so forth. Without this experience, a seemingly simple search could take hours. For summer associates who are working with strict time deadlines or just on the billing clock — well, not a good idea. This is where the library’s information professionals come in. The librarians have already spent hours upon hours of time surfing the Net and WWW looking for, finding, and bookmarking all the best sites that money cannot buy. Most libraries subscribe to numerous periodicals that exclusively discuss legal research on the Net, the best legal information sites, the best search engines, and the advances to searching that are taking place. In other words, what might take the average person a few hours to find, if ever, the library’s information professional usually can find with a click or two. As the saying goes, “Why invent the wheel if it already exists.” Most libraries have in-house Internet legal research training programs already in place. When the opportunity presents itself to attend one of these wonderfully informative programs, don’t pass it by. If a formal Internet research program does not as yet exist, do not despair. Take a moment and speak with one of the firm’s librarians about arranging a little help session. Perhaps the librarian would be willing to arrange a one-on-one or an informal group get-together. A librarian likes nothing more than a chance to share his or her knowledge with a willing participant. A SAFE HAVEN The library is a wonderful place to find a little quiet and solitude. A place to get work done without distractions, it is the perfect place to head for when the going gets rough and the rough start to get going. A library is a sanctuary where a summer associate can take refuge from the storm. After all, librarians to this day keep the peace (and quiet, that is). When the law firm world starts to get a little too stressful, pick up your assignment (no beverages, please) and head for the library. Don’t worry, you can pack light to make a quick getaway, for the librarian can supply you with all the implements to ply your trade — i.e., pen, pencil, legal pad and, of course, a warm welcome. Another important item to remember is anonymity. A librarian’s sacred duty is to the library patron. When you speak with a librarian, it is similar to speaking with a holy person. That is, whatever is discussed with a librarian is considered a privileged communication. Wild partners could not drag this type of confidence from a librarian. So feel secure, and ask your questions in confidence. IN CLOSING Opportunities come and go in the same way that some lessons are learned and remembered and others are forgotten. As a summer associate, the opportunities and lessons that will present themselves will be boundless. Take the opportunity that is being presented and the advice being offered freely. Watch, listen, learn and remember, for there is no better learning than from real life experiences. Take the time and make the law librarian your friend, for if not the person, then the knowledge that he or she will share will be a friend of yours for life. What can be learned during this short summer experience can be applied back at school and after graduation, as you enter the law profession. There is no better way to express what the librarian can offer a summer associate than to quote from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to John Garland Jefferson, 11 June 1790, from the “Papers of Thomas Jefferson” 16:480 (Julian P. Boyd ed. 1961): It is general practice to study law in the office of some lawyer. This indeed gives to the student the advantage of his instruction. But I have ever seen that the services expected in return have been more than the instructions have been worth. All that is necessary for a student is access to a library, and directions in what order the books are to be read. Eric M. Kaufman is senior law librarian at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP

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