Questions with Puron: Featured RIPS Member – Clare Gaynor Willis

Compiled by: Shari Berkowitz Duff

Questions with Puron is a social media series launched by the RIPS PR & Recruitment Committee to highlight the diverse views and professional strategies of the constituents of Research Instruction and Patron Services Special Interest Section (RIPS-SIS). Twice per month, our beloved penguin mascot poses a series of questions to one of the many librarians who make up RIPS. Puron talked with Clare Gaynor Willis, Research & Instructional Services Librarian, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, IL

Puron: Share your favorite new (or new-to-you) resource for 2020! [could be a website, database, secondary source, anything]

Clare: I don’t think I discovered much that was new except for a lot of COVID-tracking websites.  MicroCOVID.org has a calculator that lets you enter your possible activity, your location, how close people are, what mask everyone is wearing, and it will calculate your COVID risk.  It pretty much always tells me what I already thought, but it’s nice to have some science behind it! 

Puron: What brought you to law libraries?

Clare: What brought me to law libraries was finding the intersection between a love of the law and a love of research.  I’ve always loved learning new things.  I was pre-law in undergrad at the University of Illinois when I met a law librarian in a law elective course, Paul Healey.  He was kind enough to let me interview him.  It seemed like an incredible job and I debated applying to grad school after undergrad, but there was a lot of momentum behind going to law school first, so I did that instead.  So law libraries were always plan A, it just took me a while to get back to that.

Puron: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love to bake and cook.  It challenges me, nourishes my family, and allows me to experience new things in a time when every day can feel the same!

Puron: Favorite #AALL2020 session? Or a cool recent webinar?

Clare: Last year, I attended a webinar on trauma-informed pedagogy that made a huge difference in my teaching.  It was much more transformational than everything that I learned about educational technology, although that was important as well.  The most important takeaways were that people in trauma have less mental bandwidth, so you need to cut down on things that take mental energy, and that people in trauma can develop resilience if you show them how they are building on their strengths rather than fixing something that is wrong with them.  Those principles guided how I taught ALR in fall 2020 and I think it was one of my best semesters, pandemic or not.

Puron: What’s a professional achievement you’re proud of?

Clare: I’m very proud of my service as president of the Chicago Association of Law Libraries.  CALL is an amazing, vibrant group of smart librarians who are always willing to help each other and learn from each other.  Even getting their vote felt like a huge accomplishment.  I helped guide the organization towards offering more continuing education, including webinars.  I also loosened up the rule on in-person Executive Board meetings to allow for occasional conference calls.  I think our embrace of those changes allowed the organization to pivot to online meetings more easily.  Not that I don’t miss the quarterly lunch meetings!

Puron: What does reference look like for you?

Clare: Reference also looks like me at the window with a cat!  More than that, I think it looks like a lot of listening.  People rarely ask for the thing they actually want. 

Puron: How does reference or instruction assist with access to justice for you?

Clare: Instruction lets me teach the attorneys who will serve the public.  I’m always conscious that some of my students will go on to clerkships and public interest jobs.  I believe that Advanced Legal Research will make them more effective advocates for the public interest.  But I don’t limit access to justice discussions to those students.  I usually have a discussion about whether PACER should be free and I bring in public interest and big law firm lawyers and librarians to talk about cost-effective research.  These discussions may be one of the first times that law students have to confront the fact that some clients can afford more research than others.  Once they see that it is not fair, I think that allows them an opportunity to examine other unfairness in the justice system. 

What’s something interesting about your work [in a government library or firm library, etc.] that most people outside the field wouldn’t know?

I don’t think people know how much we get to learn about how many things. I just spent two days learning about models of Senate voting behavior in political science literature.  About a month ago, I researched statistics about how schools desegregated and re-segregated over the past 60 years.  I learned about different historical definitions of “cemetery” and “churchyard” last year.  Serving many faculty members and students and their many research agendas allows me a peek into a variety of fields of inquiry.  If I was an attorney or a law professor, I’d have to specialize.  Being a librarian lets you research a little bit of everything.   

Puron: What is your dream vacation destination for when it is safe to travel again?

Clare: I go back and forth on this.  Part of me just wants to go back to somewhere that I’ve loved before like Maine.  Part of me wants to take my annual trip to Wisconsin Dells with good friends from high school and college because I missed them last year.  And part of me would like to take the trip to Poland that was cancelled very early in the pandemic.  But that was supposed to be a trip with students taking a course with me and studying Polish law and politics.  I can never get that back again.  And that hurts quite a bit, so maybe I should focus on Wisconsin Dells for now.

Puron: What is your favorite podcast?

Clare: I listen to dozens of podcasts, even now that I’m not commuting, so this is a tough one.  There is only one that I listen to right away when I see a new one in my feed:  Reply All.  It’s always fascinating, often hilarious, and pretty much required listening if you’re unable to follow the minutia of what’s going on in internet culture and subcultures.  They were covering QAnon long before I heard the conspiracy discussed anywhere else. 

Puron: What is your favorite movie?

Clare: The Royal Tenenbaums.  I love Wes Anderson’s movies.  They get a lot of attention for being stylish (see the Accidentally Wes Anderson Instagram feed), but his movies pack an incredible, albeit incredibly understated, emotional punch.  They are poignant and can be extremely sad while also being extremely funny and silly.  Someday, he will get a lifetime achievement Oscar and everyone will wonder why he didn’t ever win Best Director.

Puron: What is your favorite app (or what app can’t you live without)?

Clare: The app I can’t live without is probably the Outlook app, but that’s not a very fun answer.  The other answer would be Les Mills On-Demand Apple TV app.  Exercise has kept me sane during quarantine. 

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Clare. If you would like to hear from more members, join the conversation on our Twitter RIPS-SIS (@RIPS_SIS) or connect with us on Facebook facebook.com/PuronRIPS/. The PR & Recruitment Committee will also be reaching out to select members for participation in this series. If you would like to be featured, or want to recommend someone, please email Emma Wood at emma.wood@umassd.edu.

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What and How Might a Better Bar Test?: A Brief Look at IAALS’ “Building a Better Bar” Project

With the February bar exam falling last week, it seemed appropriate to spend part of those days reading through the Building a Better Bar project report. In a first-of-its-kind study, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, in partnership with The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, conducted 50 focus groups in 12 U.S. states to gather insights into what sort of “minimum competence” lawyers need to practice.

Looking first at prior research surrounding the knowledge, skills and judgment needed to represent clients, two important conclusions were reached. First, in study after study, cognitive skills like communication, research, legal analysis, and critical thinking were ranked as more important than knowledge of doctrinal law. And second, since most prior research had relied upon surveys, it unfortunately provided little detail about precisely how lawyers acquire the competencies they need. (Hint: It’s not through preparing for the exam as it stands!)

Recognizing that the legal profession lacked “a clear, explicit understanding of the minimum competence needed to practice law and how it should be tested,” the project identifies a critical gap and seeks to fill it with “a fair, evidence-based definition of minimum competence” along with recommendations for how the legal licensing process need change.

The report suggests that minimum competence consists of twelve interlocking components, or “building blocks”:

  1. The ability to act professionally and in accordance with the rules of professional conduct
  2. An understanding of legal processes and sources of law
  3. An understanding of threshold concepts in many subjects
  4. The ability to interpret legal materials
  5. The ability to interact effectively with clients
  6. The ability to identify legal issues
  7. The ability to conduct research
  8. The ability to communicate as a lawyer
  9. The ability to see the “big picture” of client matters
  10. The ability to manage a law-related workload responsibly
  11. The ability to cope with the stresses of legal practice
  12. The ability to pursue self-directed learning

One need not read the report in its entirety to acknowledge the value of these skills in practice. In the same way that the AALL Principles & Standards for Legal Research Competency can be used to measure students’ abilities to effectively research the law, so too could these building blocks operate to better prepare new lawyers for practice. And, unlike as is the case now, the bundle of skills tested would prove valuable in each and every practice area.

The inclusion of multiple building blocks testing skills that have yet to be incorporated in the exam seems to me a critical improvement. Aren’t the abilities to interact effectively with clients, conduct research, pursue self-directed learning, etc. necessary to succeed as a new lawyer? Thus, shouldn’t we be specifically testing those abilities (in the best ways possible)?

The report further proposes ten recommendations that stakeholders should consider in their efforts to move toward a better exam:

  1. Written exams are not well suited to assessing all aspects of minimum competence. Where written exams are used, they should be complemented by other forms of assessment.
  2. Multiple choice exams should be used sparingly, if at all.
  3. Eliminate essay questions from written exams and substitute more performance tests.
  4. If jurisdictions retain essay and/or multiple choice questions, those questions should be open book.
  5. Where written exams are used, provide more time for all components.
  6. Candidates for licensure should be required to complete coursework that develops their ability to interact effectively with clients.
  7. Candidates for licensure should be required to complete coursework that develops their ability to negotiate.
  8. Candidates for licensure should be required to complete coursework that focuses on the lawyer’s responsibility to promote and protect the quality of justice.
  9. Candidates for licensure should be required to complete closely supervised clinical and/or externship work.
  10. A standing working group made up of legal educators, judges, practitioners, law students, and clients should be formed to review the twelve building blocks and design an evidence-based licensing system that is valid, reliable, and fair to all candidates.

Based on my own experiences, I absolutely agree that skills like research, writing and analysis are most important as a new lawyer, and I certainly don’t feel the bar exam adequately sought or operated to even remotely capture the extent to which I had developed those skills. In fact, when I took the bar, the multistate performance test, which has always seemed to me the most practical piece of the exam—that piece which “most closely parallels the work [new lawyers] do during the first year of practice”—was worth only ten percent of the exam. TEN! And even with the UBE, while twenty percent is admittedly an improvement, it remains far from reasonable, nor does it touch upon a number of the aforementioned skillsets new lawyers so desperately need.

In further reflecting on my experiences, I couldn’t help but think back to those numerous laws (temporarily) committed to memory, and I can’t say I believe this was a relevant exercise for practice either. While I certainly agree that new lawyers need develop a familiarity with foundational legal principles, like focus group participants, I think extensive, rote memorization can and does “distract new lawyers from developing the competencies they [truly] need.”

You might be wondering: How is the ability to conduct research broken down in the report? It is divided into four tasks, as new lawyers stated they needed to be able to (i) answer specific legal questions posed by clients or supervisors, (ii) check or update their knowledge of legal doctrine, (iii) acquire facts and non-legal information for client matters, and (iv) find information about local rules or practices. The report goes on to suggest that, unlike existing performance tests, additional performance tests could be adapted to measure research abilities. “Rather than providing closed universe files to candidates for every performance test question,” for instance, “jurisdictions could require candidates to conduct their own research on one or more of these exercises.”

Regarding the report’s final recommendations, it makes sense that several of the proposed building blocks cannot be adequately tested on a written exam, and that we should thus consider additional exam components such as coursework and clinical experience. Of course, as teaching librarians, we need also be asking ourselves how we can seek to incorporate multiple building blocks—and not solely the ability to research—in our own classrooms.

As a final note, I point to the report’s inclusion of multiple licensing system examples, including test-, experience-, and diploma-centered systems. I encourage you to explore the report and resources below and to similarly ask whether there is indeed a better way.

References

Deborah Jones Merritt & Logan Cornett, Building a Better Bar: The Twelve Building Blocks of Minimum Competence, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, https://iaals.du.edu/publications/building-better-bar.

Logan Cornett et al., Building a Better Bar: Capturing Minimum Competence, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, https://iaals.du.edu/projects/building-a-better-bar.

Logan Cornett, IAALS Study Reveals the Building Blocks of Minimum Competence, Recommends Changes to Bar Exam and Lawyer Licensing, IAALS Blog (Oct. 29, 2020),  https://iaals.du.edu/blog/iaals-study-reveals-building-blocks-minimum-competence-recommends-changes-bar-exam-and-lawyer.

Logan Cornett & Zachariah DeMeola, Expert Opinion: No Small Measures: We Must Radically Reconsider Lawyer Licensure and the Bar Exam, IAALS Blog (Feb. 24, 2021),  https://iaals.du.edu/blog/expert-opinion-no-small-measures-we-must-radically-reconsider-lawyer-licensure-and-bar-exam.

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Perusing the News: A Review of Thomson Reuter’s Westlaw Today

Guest Post by Emma Wood

I work in an academic setting, and faculty members often ask for ways to keep current on legal topics.  They want to stay informed in their areas of interest and for their courses.  My approach to this request is typically to set up alerts for caselaw in Lexis or Westlaw on their behalf or to call upon Google News Alerts or Law360.  Recently I added Westlaw Today to my toolkit which is Westlaw’s counterpart to the Law360 product, a news database that provides a user-friendly homepage with browsable headlines and topical newsletters by email.  Users can select from a list of practice areas such as immigration and antitrust to sign up for a compiled list of news updates delivered daily to their email inbox.  Multiple topics can be applied to the daily update so, for example, your newsletter could include both bankruptcy and data privacy articles.  My newsletter usually consists of about 20 articles for each topic I select.  The practice areas are somewhat limited.  The service could be improved by expanding the topics or including more granular headings within each.

The sources of Westlaw Today’s articles are popular blogs and publications such as JD Supra and The Hill.  They also solicit article contributions from attorneys and legal professions using a submission button on their homepage.  Depending on your selected practice area, you will also receive articles from more specialized outlets such as Interpreter Releases Daily for Immigration and CQ Roll Call Washington Immigration Briefing.  I am not sure of the criteria determining which news sources are prioritized in the newsletters, but I see a lot of the same publications each day, thus it seems to be a relevance ranking which pulls from the most popular or widely-used sources.

            The Westlaw Today link is somewhat hidden in an expandable drop-down menu in the upper half of the screen.  It takes an extra click or two to access.  The standard news link on Westlaw’s homepage (under the “specialty areas” heading) is still available for a traditional search through Westlaw’s news sources.  I’m pleased to know Westlaw maintained this separate news section because I use it frequently for quick research on current events.  The difference is that the Westlaw Today section reads and functions more like the front page of a newspaper with its images, headlines, featured columnists, and “most viewed articles.”  This new product appeals to those browsing the news rather than conducting research.

Unlike Westlaw’s “alerts” feature, Westlaw Today cannot be customized by frequency.  The newsletter must be received daily, and this may be drawback for those who are already inundated with email and might prefer a weekly update.  It does also lack customization in allowing the user to select publications, add search terms, or otherwise submit their delivery preference.  This critique may be driven by the researcher in me though, who is always seeking to improve search results and unearth a finite piece of information.  The focus for Westlaw Today is on casual reading.  It succeeds as an easy news resource because largely its articles are intended to find you rather than you finding them.

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2021 Teach-in Kit: Deadline for Submissions Extended!

Guest Post by Clare Gaynor Willis Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Teach-In Kit 2021: We Need Your Submissions!

Have you designed a great assignment that your students loved? Or discovered new and exciting ways to teach legal research, even in the middle of a pandemic? Then consider sharing them with AALL by submitting them to the 29th Annual RIPS-SIS Legal Research Teach-In Kit!

Extended deadline for submissions: March 1, 2021

Where to send your submissions: Clare Willis, at Clare.willis@law.northwestern.edu


What can you submit?

All sorts of things! The Teach-in Kit will include hypos, presentations, assessments, and any other activities you may have designed. You can submit brand new materials or old favorites. If it helps us teach legal research better, we would love to see it!

Here are some examples from years past, with testimonials:

– Local Government Law from the 22nd Teach-In Kit 2014.  I have found this presentation and assignment invaluable for teaching municipal law.  It is keyed to California law, but can be easily adapted to other jurisdictions.  I especially like the assignment, researching plastic bag bans, because it requires students to use two different municipal code platforms and lets them experience searching a legal database that isn’t Lexis and Westlaw. 

– Wikipedia Project from the 28th Teach-In Kit 2019. I’ve found that this Wikipedia assignment makes for an awesome final project in Advanced Legal Research! Students have the opportunity to do a deep dive into a research topic that they feel passionately about while using the skills they learn throughout ALR. The rubric included with this assignment makes grading easier as well. 

– Database Review Assignment from the 28th Teach-In Kit 2019. This assignment was a great way to get students to apply the research strategies I taught in class to evaluate the usefulness of select databases on their own. Because students would typically give their presentations at the beginning of class, the database reviews also helped set the stage for what we would be talking about that day. Overall, a simple, low-stakes assessment that keeps students engaged, and allows them to gain exposure to lots of extra tools, resources, and databases!

– Federal Legislative History.  I love that this worksheet walks students through the cumbersome process of performing extensive legislative history research using both free and paid resources. While it requires updating to be used in conjunction with current government sites, I like that it can be used in whole or in part to demonstrate to students just how expansive – and interesting – legislative history research is! 


What if it’s not perfect?

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good! Send whatever you have, in whatever form you have it, and the committee will work with you to get it into a format that works for everyone.


We Can’t Wait To See Your Ideas!

Your materials are what make the Teach-In Kit so valuable, and we are grateful for everything you provide every year. In this especially trying year, we could use your help more than ever! If you want to submit something, or have any questions, that email again is: Clare Willis, at Clare.willis@law.northwestern.edu.

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Upcoming RIPS Election: Meet the Candidates

The RIPS Election, to select the next group of leaders for our Executive Board, will run from March 1st to March 30th.  Three positions open up this year: Vice Chair; Secretary-Treasurer; and Member-at-Large. The RIPS Nominations Committee has put forth a fantastic slate of nominees for the Executive Board. Meet them below!

Vice Chair

Matt Timko:  Matt currently serves, since 2017, as the Academic Technologies and Outreach Services Librarian at Northern Illinois University’s College of Law. He’s been a member of AALL since 2016, and a member of RIPS-SIS since the very beginning. He has served on several committees and currently chairs the Online Training Committee. Additionally, he contributes to the RIPS-SIS Law Librarians Blog, serves on the Membership Taskforce, and has helped coordinate scholarship efforts between RIPS, ALL-SIS, and PEGA-SIS, including setting up a weekly writing group for several members.

Matt’s Statement:  RIPS-SIS is one of the most vibrant and dynamic organizations I’ve been a part of and I have learned so much from all of the members through presentations, roundtables, and conversations. I have endeavored to help RIPS in any way I can, and to support the SIS as a way to both contribute for the benefit of the membership, but also to gain from the tremendous amount of knowledge and experience within the SIS. I would love to serve as Vice-Chair and feel that I would help contribute to and enhance this amazing SIS.

Mark Williams:  Mark is the Head of Collection Services and Lecturer in Law for Vanderbilt Law School’s Massey Law Library. Along with overseeing the law library’s collections services department, Mark teaches courses in Advanced Legal Research in Business and Securities, Legal Practice Technology, and the research portion of the Legal Writing and Research Program.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt in 2017, Mark spent four years at Cornell Law Library, where he served as Digital Resources and Outreach Librarian and taught first-year legal research. Mark also taught courses in Law Practice Technology, Advanced Legal Research in Intellectual Property, and Advanced Legal Research in Administrative Law. From January 2010 to January 2011, he was a regional director in charge of outreach and constituent services for Rep. Walt Minnick of Idaho’s first congressional district. After earning his law degree in 2008, he worked for two years a reporter at the Moscow-Pullman Daily newspaper in Moscow, Idaho.  Williams has been a member of the American Association of Law Libraries since 2013 and recently served as the chair of the Research Instruction & Patron Services Special Interest Section’s Teach-In Kit Committee.

Mark’s Statement: Like many in our profession I did not come to law librarianship through a linear path. There is no singular roadmap for how to embark on this journey and that diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is part of what makes this career choice so rewarding. RIP-SIS has been foundational for my professional development in connecting me to the rich spectrum of perspectives for guidance on how to become a better law librarian.

I have been a member in some capacity since starting as an outreach and instruction librarian at Cornell in 2013 through my current role as Head of Collections Services at Vanderbilt today.  Of particular importance to me has been the National Legal Research Teach-In Kit. Prior to becoming a law librarian, I had no teaching experience of any kind. I was both excited and terrified at the prospect of diving into instruction for the first time. The resources provided on the teach-in kit undoubtedly served as a reliable security blanket as I worked to develop functional and practical assessments in and out of the classroom while also developing my own style. I would have found my way without it, but it would have been exponentially more difficult. It was an honor to serve as the Teach-In chair last year and guide the committee through its 28th pandemic-infused edition. Hopefully, others will find the resources collected there as valuable as I have. Although my time as chair on that committee has ended, it would be an absolute privilege to serve as a Vice Chair on the Executive Board and continue to contribute as much assistance as I have received while being a part of the RIP-SIS community.

Secretary-Treasurer

Sandra (Sandy) Dunbar: Before Sandy became a librarian (or worked in a library), she worked 12 years in the printing industry as a proofreader and typesetter for a regional printing company working on trade publications from a variety of industries. Even then she was given opportunity in the form of additional responsibilities including mailroom, some ad markup, and running the phototypesetting machines. We were using punched paper tape, 8 inch floppy disks and primitive computers. Her next big adventure, and the first step in a library career started when she put in an application at the local public library, just for fun. A couple years later Sandy received a call asking, “Was she still interested in working at the library?” She believes that she got the job because she had done licensed daycare out of her home during the interim, and the librarian wanted to hire someone with experience managing children for the children’s department. She was also the first person to suggest that Sandy pursue a Library Science degree. Later, while completing a teaching degree, she would organize and run the summer reading program for three years, and prior to student teaching, the preschool story hour programs.

A couple of life changes later, she began working at the Library of Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine, Peoria. She began in circulation and completed her tenure there in the serials department. During this time, she started the master of library science program at University of Illinois, completing an MLIS degree through a cohort partnership with Dominican University and the Alliance Library System. After graduation, Sandy had the opportunity to take on her first and only professional position, as Firm Librarian at Heyl, Royster, Voelker and Allen. Like many people, that winding path to library science had unexpected benefits. As a solo librarian, she does whatever needs done. She proofreads and cite checks briefs, materials authored for publication, and firm website content. She performs all of the technical service tasks required to manage our print collection, across the firm, eight offices in three states. Reference, research, and litigation support, are critical elements of the position. There is always something new to learn. And, she teaches – basic technology, research skills, and use of the firm’s tools – digital and print.

Sandy’s Statement: I joined RIPS a few years after joining AALL. I’ve regularly attended business meeting and breakfast meetings. In 2017, I received an annual meeting grant from RIPS. This grant enabled me to attend the 2017 AALL Conference in Austin, Texas. The following year I served on a committee. Although my service has been limited, I’ve been an engaged member, attending conference events and programs. Why serve RIPS? The position of secretary/treasurer is an opportunity to give back to an organization that has provided support to myself and many others. I know that I have the skill sets and abilities to perform the necessary tasks of the position – I’ve been secretary to other organizations, and manage the library budget and other financial aspects of library and the firm’s facilities. Most of all, though, this office represents an opportunity for deeper engagement and involvement with a group of people that I have enjoyed meeting and look forward to working with.

Jenna Pontious: Jenna Pontious has worked in libraries for over a decade, and has supervisory and project management experience from public law libraries, traditional public libraries, and even a law firm office.  Before her current supervisory role as the Public Services Librarian with the Riverside County Law Library, she worked as a Legal Reference and Instruction Librarian with RCLL. She also served as the supervisor of the Main library for the City of Riverside Public Library, where she managed multiple divisions and developed large scale policy and programmatic initiatives.

Jenna’s Statement: I bring ten years of experience as a supervisor and project manager in libraries, where I’ve managed complex budgets and was responsible for numerous administrative roles.  I also have a passion for fostering partnerships to advance strategic initiatives, which is particularly helpful when the library’s budget is tight! As Secretary/Treasurer of the RIPS Executive Board, I would ensure that the treasurer’s report and meeting minutes are detailed and accurate. Due to my time in a law firm, I type 60 WPM, and I take quick and detailed notes!

Member-at-Large

Matt Cooper: Matt is currently the Assistant Director for Public Services at the Moritz Law Library of the Ohio State University’s College of Law, overseeing a team of reference and circulation librarians. Matt helps ensure that our library provides high quality research support to faculty, staff, students, and members of the public. Since starting his career as a reference librarian, he has also had the opportunity to teach a variety of courses including Legal Analysis & Writing and several Advanced Legal Research Courses: Ohio Legal Research, Business & Tax Legal Research, Foreign & International Legal Research, and most recently a multi-credit general advanced legal research course.

Matt has been involved in RIPS for the last several years, serving as a member of the Patron Services Committee followed by service as Vice-Chair last year and Chair this year. He has also served multiple times on the Grants Committee. In addition to his involvement in RIPS, he is active in the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries as well as the Columbus Bar Association’s Legal Research Committee.

Prior to becoming a law librarian, Matt worked as a staff attorney at a state appellate court, drafting court opinions and doing the necessary underlying research. He also served as an assistant public defender for a couple of years, representing indigent clients in felony and misdemeanor criminal matters at both the adult and juvenile court levels. Matt has a B.A. in History from the University of Notre Dame, a J.D. from Ohio State, and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University.

Matt’s Statement: I am honored to be considered for a position on the RIPS Executive Board. I have enjoyed my committee work over the last several years, which has ranged from organizing and facilitating online discussions, putting together a webinar, and helping to determine the most worthy candidates for awards and grants. It has allowed me to work with a variety of conscientious librarians from around the country who are committed to improving our ability to do our important work. It has also led to other opportunities such as collaborating on an annual meeting program. I know that I have grown professionally in these years due to my participation in RIPS.

I would welcome the chance to serve on the Executive Board and would strive to continue the great work I have observed from those who have served previously. Legal research and legal research instruction are at the heart of what I do in my day-to-day work. I have been impressed by the resources, programs, and events that RIPS and its members have created or maintained in these areas in recent years. If I were elected to the board, I would diligently work with other board members to help ensure that RIPS committees and members have the resources and support they need for continued success. I would also offer input as to any changes RIPS might want to explore to better serve its members and the profession.

Malikah Hall: Malikah Hall is a Law Librarian and Instructional Assistant Professor at Texas A&M School of Law Dee J. Kelly Law Library. Prior to her current position, Malikah was the Cornell University Law Library Diversity Fellow, Research Services Librarian, and Lecturer-in-Law. She has taught courses in lawyering, legal research, and legal analysis. Professor Malikah earned her Juris Doctor degree from the North Carolina Central University School of Law and her Master of Library Science degree (summa cum laude) from the North Carolina Central University School of Library and Information Sciences. Malikah has been a member of RIPS-SIS since 2015. She is currently the RIPS Law Librarian Blog Editor and has previously served as a blogger for the RIPS Law Librarian Blog (2018-2019), Vice-Chair of the RIPS-SIS Programming Committee (2018 – 2019), and as a member of the RIPS-SIS Online Training Committee (2017 – 2018).

Malikah’s Statement: I am excited for the opportunity to serve as the RIPS-SIS Member-at-Large. I’ve been a RIPS-SIS member for six years and have served in several capacities, including my current position as the RIPS Law Librarian Blog Editor. I want to further contribute to one of AALL’s preeminent SISs. If elected, I plan to be a member at large who will act with care for our members and regard for RIPS-SIS’s mission. I would be honored to serve as RIPS-SIS Member-at-Large and hope you will cast your vote for me. Thank you!

According to the RIPS-SIS bylaws, further nominations may be made upon written petition of five members of the SIS.  Such petititions, accompanied by written acceptance of the nominee, must be filed with the Chairperson not later than one week before the election is scheduled to open.

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