What Does a Law Librarian Do?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2019
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A law librarian is an information professional who specializes in the development and management of legal reference collections as well as assisting patrons in finding the information that they need. There are several different types of law or legal libraries, so the work of the law librarian and will vary according to the context in which he or she works. Typical workplaces for legal librarians include law firms, schools, and both private and public organizations. These librarians are typically adept in the use of various legal databases and are often very familiar with legal terminology and procedures so as to more effectively complete reference tasks and provide research assistance.

Legal research is a complex area, which is why many organizations or libraries that focus on law or public policy hire a law librarian to manage their information resources and to assist with necessary research and reference tasks. Although the qualifications of a law librarian vary by jurisdiction, many librarians who specialize in legal issues hold degrees in both library science as well as law or political science. In some cases, a law librarian may be a licensed attorney in addition to being a librarian.


A law librarian who works in law office or organization may, depending on staff size, perform a wide range of duties. A smaller law practice or business may hire one librarian to manage an entire collection. In such cases, he may be responsible for the management of the entire library, including acquisitions, training, and reference support. Large practices and organizations may be able to afford a larger library staff, which may result in differing roles and responsibilities for each librarian or library aide. When working in a law practice or organization, librarians may regularly be called upon to provide research on legal issues as well as supplementary information that may be germane to specific cases or policy decisions.

Law school librarians typically operates large collections of legal books and journals as well as online legal databases. As is true of any academic librarian, this type of law librarian may have extensive collection management duties or, depending on the size of the library, may spend a great deal of time providing reference and research services. The law school librarian may also have instructional duties, teaching students and faculty how to perform legal research, familiarizing them with reference sources, and training the school community in the use of electronic reference sources.


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Post 3

As a job, I have always thought about becoming a law librarian. However, after reading this article, I can see that it takes a lot of work. I still might give it a go, though. Not only do you have to be efficient at research, but you have to know how to locate reference materials, and even more so, making sure to be friendly to those who ask for help.

Post 2

@RoyalSpyder - I definitely agree with you. While it's always a good idea to ask others for help, they could be busy sometimes and may not always have time. On top of that, it can definitely save you time if you're trying to do research. For example, during my sophomore year of college, I only had one week to finish a research paper because I fell behind. Instead of asking for help on finding sources, I actually asked her if she could give me tips on locating sources. That way, it would make my research better and much more efficient, especially in the future.

Post 1

Though there are many different types of law librarians, the one that I'm most familiar with are those who assist you in finding the information you need. They can be very helpful, and are obviously trained well in this area. However, one benefit you can get from seeking help from a law librarian is learning how to research information yourself. That way, you won't always have to ask for help when you're trying to do research.

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