Law librarians are information resource experts who work in law schools, corporate law departments, law firms, and government libraries. They assist attorneys, students, staff, and library patrons on the use of legal and business research resources. They facilitate cost-effective legal research through their extensive knowledge of print and electronic media.
The role of law librarians has grown due to economic restructuring, and these highly educated professionals often serve as leaders, researchers, and educators to a cross-generational audience as well.
Law Librarian Job Responsibilities
These professionals collect, analyze, evaluate, research, teach, and disseminate information to facilitate accurate decision-making. Their exact roles can depend on the practice setting.
Law librarians generally aren't required to pass the state bar exam, but some positions require a law degree from a school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Most law librarians have master’s degrees in library or information science.
Many colleges and universities offer library science programs, but employers often prefer graduates of programs that are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
Most master’s programs take one year to complete, although some take two years.
These professionals must be service-oriented team players, up to date on technical trends, and able to provide effective leadership.
Excellent research, analytical skills and a working knowledge of legal reference sources, publications, and computerized legal research platforms are essential.
Strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are required to analyze and identify the best research resources and to resolve complex issues.
Excellent oral and written communication skills, strong organization, time management, and project management skills are also necessary to manage a variety of complex projects within tight deadlines.
Law librarians often work in the public sector for courts and local, state, and federal government agencies. Others provide technical services for law firms, corporate law departments, or schools. Those who are employed in the law firm environment might work under tight deadlines, and this can be demanding and stressful.
Law school librarians usually have the same workday and vacation schedules as law school professors, and those who work in public service areas tend to enjoy normal business schedules. Their jobs typically require a great deal more interaction with the public.
Some smaller employers require librarians to serve in both public and research roles.
Law Librarian Salaries
Salaries can vary according to the employee’s qualifications and the type, size, and location of the library. The median annual salary of librarians in general was $59,050 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with half earning more than this and half earning less.
Law librarians tend to earn higher salaries than librarians in other industries because they're highly educated and specialized.
Job growth for librarians in general is expected to be about 6% from 2018 to 2028, according to the BLS. This is about as fast as average for all occupations.
Librarians in the legal sector are continually assuming additional responsibilities, such as due diligence research, business development, and records management, ensuring greater job growth and security.
Getting the Job
The American Association of Law Libraries offers a career center with advertised, available positions that are organized by geographical areas.
The Special Libraries Association and American Library Association also offer some job listings, mostly in corporate and law firm positions.