Today’s interview is with Jessica Ho-Wo-Cheong, an intern with the Global Legal Research Directorate’s Foreign, Comparative, and International Division I.
Describe your background.
I am a proud Canadian, born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. I just graduated from l’Université de Montreal with a civil law degree. Beforehand I completed my undergraduate degree at McGill University, Honors Sociology with a minor in Politics, Law and Society. In August I will be completing my common law degree at Osgoode Hall, York University. I am also passionate about traveling and have been fortunate enough to participate in exchanges at Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence (in France) and the University of Kent (in England).
Throughout the past few years, I have worked in different spheres of the legal profession including: general counsel, arbitration, and academic research. I have also volunteered at a legal aid clinic and as a judge of the International Court of Justice at a Model United Nations conference. My favorite aspect of law is the fact that it demands constant learning and re-evaluation; new laws come into effect, different areas of law emerge and new important questions arise.
How would you describe your job to other people?
The Law Library of Congress provides legal research and reports to Congress pursuant to their requests, and it often entails some aspect of comparative law. It also receives requests from other parts of the federal government, and from private patrons. As an intern with the Global Legal Research Directorate, I conduct research and write reports in response to requests. Under the supervision of Foreign Law Specialist Nicolas Boring, I cover not only Canadian law but also French civil law jurisdictions including countries such as Mali, Cameroon and Burundi. Ultimately, I come into work every day ready to take on whatever task needs to be done!
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
For any young lawyer, the opportunity to be surrounded by such an immense and vast collection is remarkable. Not only is the collection impressive, but what is equally impressive is having the research information analysts, experts in their own field, able to help refine searches and find materials. This collection, combined with the possibility of working with lawyers from across the globe, made me want to be a part of this remarkable team.
I also appreciate the public service aspect of working for government and being able to provide reference answers to citizens. The ‘Ask a Librarian’ service is open to anyone, anytime, anywhere. The range of questions we receive is quite astounding. It is exciting to face a new challenge every day and constantly learn about legal traditions across the globe.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
The moment I entered the Law Library of Congress, I sensed the friendly and collaborative spirit that this department embodies. This comes not only from having such a diverse range of ethnicities represented but also a commitment to producing a high standard of work. I was amazed to learn about the entire process from receiving a question to submitting a response. The foreign law specialists, information specialists, collections specialists, administrative staff, and editorial team all play an important role and are happy to support one another. All of these steps ensure the accuracy, clarity and relevance of the work produced.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I have a basic understanding of Creole, and I am half African; my father is from a tiny island in the Indian Ocean called Mauritius.