How Can I Become a Law Firm Librarian?

Research what it takes to become a law firm librarian. Learn about job duties, career outlook, education requirements and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Law Firm Librarian?

Law firm librarians keep documents organized and available for employees. They are also responsible for acquiring materials that lawyers might need, helping employees find information and developing and maintaining a database of materials. Law firm librarians may also need to oversee a library's budget and train any additional library staff, as well as buy new library computers and equipment if needed. These librarians may have worked in other libraries before specializing in the field of law. If you'd like to become a law firm librarian, continue reading to find out more about the typical job duties and education requirements.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Library science
Key Responsibilities Organize law materials; assist lawyers and other legal professionals locate information; perform administrative work, such as checking materials in and out
Certification Certification requirements vary by state
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for all librarians)*
Median Salary (2017) $59,397**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Education Is Required to Become a Law Firm Librarian?

First, you'll need a 4-year bachelor's degree in any major you choose. Then, you'll have to obtain a Master of Library Science (MLS), which will take 1-2 years. Some librarians who want to specialize in law librarianship also earn a law degree from an American Bar Association-accredited program. However, according to the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), fewer than 20% of job postings for law librarians require both an MLS and a J.D. (www.aallnet.org). Additionally, law degrees aren't generally required for librarians who work in law firm libraries, says AALL.

What Will I Study?

A typical library science graduate program will include courses in information architecture, Web programming, computer-based information analysis, research techniques, organizational informatics, information systems analysis and design, professional ethics, media production and administration. Some schools also offer courses specifically in law librarianship. Additionally, you'll likely have to complete a research project, thesis or capstone project to graduate.

How Do I Find a Law Library Position?

The AALL maintains a job database featuring job leads from law libraries around the country. The AALL Placement Committee also helps arrange interviews for aspiring law librarians every July. Additional leads might be available through the Special Libraries Association and American Library Association (ALA).

What Will My Job Duties Be Like?

As a law firm librarian, you'll serve lawyers and other legal professionals. Among your duties will be assisting library patrons by personally locating obscure information for them in a timely manner, performing administrative and cataloging duties, and searching databases like Dialog and Westlaw. Staff supervision and cross-training responsibilities also might comprise part of your job. You might direct law library education programs or manage specific departments within the library, depending on its size.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Archivist and curator are a couple of similar positions that also require a master's degree. Archivists authenticate, appraise and preserve all types of historical documents and records. They also organize and manage their archives and search for new pieces to add to the collection. Curators also collect and preserve various historical items, but with the intention of showcasing the pieces in exhibits. They design and organize their exhibits and prepare them for the public to visit.

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