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6 degrees of legal librarianing

You know that game, 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, when you can use Kevin Bacon to link almost anyone in Hollywood in 6 steps or less?


Well, it's got almost nothing to do with this post, but I like the idea of it :)

Anyhoo, what was it I was going to blog about...oh yes - the problem of what degree is most useful in a legal information environment. See, I knew there was some reason I'd been thinking of degrees!

Y'see, Robert Gordon University have done something rather spiffing: they've launched a distance learning Law LLB, woo-hoo! Studying is part-time as standard, and can be accelerated to full time from 2012.

Now...this is kinda tempting, because as a librarian in law firm, I'm similar to many librarians in this and other specialist areas: I don't have a degree in the subject I work in. Everything I've learned, I've either been taught by my previous or current boss (both infinitely patient in relation to daft questions), or picked up through doing the research for enquiries, and self-education in the job. I do have a degree (science), and a postgraduate diploma (information and library science), but they don't really prepare you for questions about what is a medium filum fluminis, or extinguishing a real burden, or any of the other specialist-area specific stuff.

So what you tend to find is that, if they can afford it, and can fit it into their lives, a lot of law librarians try and get some sort of legal qualification. This helps with two issues: gaining a better understanding of the foundations of what we're working with, and the processes and systems we work within. And it also helps to remind co-workers that, yes, actually, we are professionals too, just like them. You see, you could have qualifications coming out of your ears (and often, we do: Msc's, Bsc's, MAs, PGDips, Charterships), but in a law firm, to a lawyer, you're not a professional unless you have a law degree - they're the only degrees that count. And if you're not regarded as a "proper" professional, then it's far harder to get your advice and work to be taken seriously.

But there's no other option for law firm librarians than to come into law qualified in other subject areas: it's too specialised an area to have a degree or other professional qualification we can do. We come in, we learn and get on with it, and if we have time and money, we increase our qualification level by throwing in a law degree.

So obviously, I went about things the wrong way really, what you want to do is a law degree, THEN switch to being a librarian!

Now, if only I could afford to do that one at RGU...


Lizz Jennings said…
I can certainly recommend distance learning at RGU - it's a lot of work, but the staff are very supportive and seem well used to delivering content online.

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