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Legal Librarian Career, Salary and Education Facts

Legal librarians assist legal professionals with finding resources of information, like government documents, to support cases. Read on to learn about the duties, salary and education requirements of this particular branch of information science.

What You Need to Know

Legal librarians, also called law librarians, are specialized library and information professionals who research, classify, archive and loan legal materials, such as government documents or patents. To become a legal librarian, most employers require the completion of a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. A Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree may also be necessary.

Courses Digital research methods, archival, special collections
Job Outlook (2019-2029)* 5% growth (for all librarians)
Median Salary (2020)** $60,954 (for all law librarians)

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

What Would My Duties and Salary Be as a Legal Librarian?

As a law librarian, you'd help lawyers, clerks and other legal professionals with research by analyzing and evaluating sources, as well as teaching and training other legal librarians. You're not limited to working in a library or at a college or university; many legal librarians find positions in law schools, courts, law firms or corporate legal departments. As of 2020, Payscale reported a median yearly salary of $60,954 for law librarians.

What Education Do I Need?

As is the case with other librarian positions, employers often look for candidates who have a Master of Library Science (MLS) or a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from a program that offers legal reference courses. Many universities around the country offer MLS, MLIS or related degree programs, most of which can be completed in 1-2 years of flexible study.

You may combine your advanced study of library science with a legal studies background. Some universities offer joint-degree programs in which you can earn both a library science degree and a J.D. simultaneously. These J.D./MLS degree programs can take 3-5 years of full- or part-time study to complete.

What Online Options Do I Have?

If you're interested in distance learning, several universities offer relevant master's degrees in library or information science completely or partially online. Although most courses are offered entirely through Internet correspondence, some may require you to participate in weekend, on-campus seminars or complete exams on site. Other programs have practicum requirements that must be completed in person.

What Will I Learn?

In courses in legal librarianship, you'll be introduced to the organization and day-to-day operations of law libraries. Specifically, you'll learn how to help specialized law patrons use legal resources and interpret the fundamentals of legal literature. Many courses also emphasize research methods, such as evaluating bibliographies, using legal databases and locating legislative materials. Your other course topics may include:

  • Copyright law and intellectual property
  • Government publications and databases
  • Ethical issues
  • Information and knowledge professions
  • Information organization