The following is a guest post by Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research at the Law Library of Congress.
For the majority of Washingtonians the cherry blossoms signal the start of Spring. However, there is another event that marks the arrival of Spring for international lawyers: the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), which is held each year in Washington, DC, this year in early April.
The ASIL annual meeting is a major professional event in the field of international law. At the conference you can meet colleagues from around the world, exchange ideas, learn about cutting-edge concepts introduced by the most innovative lawyers and academicians, discuss best practices implemented by government officials and nongovernment organization (NGO) experts, and browse through and buy the most recently published books. Here at the Law Library of Congress, many research staff see attendance at this event as very important.
This year the theme of the meeting was “International Law in a Multipolar World” and many panels addressed varied issues relating to legal developments in individual countries and regions as well as the functioning of international tribunals and organizations. These discussions on the challenges faced by countries covered by our staff were of special interest to the ten foreign law specialists and legal research analysts who attended this forum.
The participation of the Law Library’s foreign, comparative, and international law specialists in ASIL conferences is a tradition based on a well-established institutional cooperation between the Society and the Law Library. In past years, the Law Library organized pre-conference events at the Library of Congress for annual meeting participants. These included discussions on the most authoritative sources in foreign law research, approaches to foreign law by national courts, and best practices in performing and using legal translations. For these events, our specialists prepared multinational studies and research guides and, together with invited speakers, conducted panel presentations. Relevant treasures from our collection were also displayed for attendees.
This year, ASIL suggested a change in format for our collaboration. It compiled and distributed to attendees many of the Law Library’s scholarly products on foreign law, published in the Current Legal Topics section of the Law Library’s website, as part of the continuing legal education (CLE) course materials.
Another development this year was a Law Library information table in the conference exhibition hall. During the entire conference our legal specialists were at the table and responded to questions from those who stopped by. Library staff demonstrated our most recent multinational studies, explained how to use online resources such as Congress.gov and the Global Legal Monitor, and instructed visitors on how to submit requests for research assistance to the Law Library. Our gavel pencils proved popular giveaways.
I believe that this experience was mutually beneficial. By conversing with the conference participants we were able to inform them about resources and services provided by the Law Library. It was also an opportunity for us to develop our understanding of how to better meet the research needs of the international law community.
Several Law Library staffers also attended a business meeting of ASIL’s International Legal Research Interest Group (ILRIG). We share many professional interests with the foreign and international law librarians from academic libraries who formed this group. The Group’s newly elected leadership expressed its intention to cooperate with the Law Library further, and we look forward to implementing these plans.
In conclusion, I can say that the conference turned out to be invaluable for professional development, for meeting old friends, and making new connections. I was very pleased to see that the research work of the Law Library is in line with major scholarly developments in the field of international law that were reported at the 107th ASIL annual meeting.
Finally, I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate how much my colleagues and I enjoy working with ASIL and to thank the Society’s management for their willingness to continue our cooperation.