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An Interview with Shameema Rahman, Legal Reference Specialist

This week’s interview is with Shameema Rahman, a Legal Reference Specialist in our Public Services Division.  She has previously written a guest blog post for us.

Describe your background.

I was born in Pakistan and grew up in Bangladesh because the place of my birth changed its name after independence.  Since my father was a judge and transferred to different districts every two years, he decided to keep the family in Dhaka while he was traveling because two of my siblings were in medical school and the other two were in Dhaka University.  This gave me the opportunity to grow up in Dhaka most of my life.  My father died when I was in high school but my mom kept his dream alive by raising the children the way my dad wanted.  She put me through the best schools and colleges in the country.  I did not realize how much my mother did for me until I became a mother myself.

What is your academic/professional history?

I completed my undergraduate degree in law from Dhaka University.  After completing my LL.B. with honors from Dhaka University in 1991, I was admitted to the LL.M. program there.  At the same time, I was working as a junior attorney, handling cases in the Magistrate Court, Family Court, District Court, and the Supreme Court.  In 1992, I had to leave Bangladesh for the U.S. because my immigrant visa was about to expire and my mom was having trouble taking care of her children in two different countries.  My mom came to America to be with my eldest sister in the early 80’s.

My first job in America was as a substitute teacher at a preschool in New Jersey.  I moved to New York to work at the Tax Center of America as an accountant in December, 1992.  I left New York in 1993 to pursue my LL.M. degree at Howard University School of Law. The program was on Comparative Jurisprudence.  I graduated in 1994.  After that, I completed a certification on Government Contract Management from George Washington University.  I have also completed two semesters at Howard University towards a Ph.D. program.

My first library job was at Howard University Law Library where I started working as a student library assistant in 1993.  In 1994, I joined the Telesec professional staffing services company and held four jobs at the same time including the night shift at Howard Law Library.  My first full-time permanent library job started at the Hale & Dorr law firm in 1996.  I stayed there until December 1998.  I joined the Law Library of Congress in January 1999. My 12th anniversary at the Law Library of Congress will be in January 2011.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My job at the Law Library of Congress is a perfect match with my academic and professional background.  I feel lucky when I am able to use my Bangladeshi education and experience at my job.  I feel lucky when I use my American education and experience in the reading room.  As a Legal Reference Specialist I do a number of things.  For example, I work at the reference desk; answer “Ask A Librarian” reference inquiries; teach legal research classes both for public and congressional staffs; conduct congressional briefings; answer inquiries on Bangladeshi laws; publish articles in the Global Legal Monitor; work as the curator and the database administrator for the Global Legal Information Catalog; volunteer as a docent of the Library of Congress to provide tours of the Jefferson Building;  and many other short-term and long-term projects.  I enjoy every piece of my job responsibility.  I love my work and I love the place of my work.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

I used the Law Library of Congress as a student researcher from 1993 to 1996.  Since I was working on my degree in Comparative Jurisprudence, I was able to meet a number of legal specialists at that time.  I was surprised to know a foreign law degree can be useful to the U.S. Congress.  From then on, it was my dream to work for the Law Library of Congress, and I always thank God for giving me this opportunity.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the law library?

In my previous answer I mentioned that I was surprised to know that a foreign law degree can be useful to the U.S. Congress.  My friends from law school in Bangladesh are now judges, ministers, lawyers, and some are working in the legislative branch.  I am still in contact with them.  I try to keep myself up-to-date with the legal developments in Bangladesh.  They are also surprised to know how the Law Library of Congress is assisting the U.S. Congress with foreign-trained attorneys.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

My colleagues have heard me humming at the desk, but I don’t think they know I can sing.  I had a music teacher who came to our house every Sunday evening to teach me Tagore Songs (Songs of Rabindranath Tagore) and Classical Music in Sanskrit.  I love music, but did not want it as my profession.  So, I ended up being a bathroom singer.

2 Comments

  1. Reme Grefalda
    December 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I am proud to announce to the world that Shameema Rahman is the President of The Library of Congress Asian American AssociationLCAAA for the 2011 term.
    All the best to you, Shameema!!

  2. shamim ur Rehman
    April 22, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    It is an honour to know that a Pakistani origin lady is working with passion and conviction for legal research.In Pakistan we are also in the process of new legislation on domestic violence,torture,homebased workers,domestic workers and consolidation of labor laws and i have been contributing a little according to my capacity for last about 18 years and has also visited Bangladesh on the finalization process of national policy for home based workers and had also an opportunity of observing US Legal system closely during my visit as IVLP ,so, doing similar work in little capacity.
    As far as criminal case against the little child in Pakistan is concerned,it happened due to negligence and incompetence of the local police but remedied by the courts immediately and the concerned police officers are facing inquiry.

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