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An Interview with Goran Seferovic, Scholar in Residence

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This week’s interview is with Goran Seferovic who has been our scholar in residence at the Law Library of Congress this past summer. This interview is part of a series that introduces our scholars and summer interns to In Custodia Legis readers. Dr. Seferovic is a senior research associate at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Law. It has been a pleasure interacting with Dr. Seferovic and learning from him about comparative aspects of direct democracy, a subject he is currently researching extensively for a book.

Describe your background.

I studied law at the University of Zurich Switzerland, where I obtained my doctorate in 2010, for my dissertation, Das Schweizerische Bundesgericht 1848-1874: Die Bundesgerichtsbarkeit im frühen Bundesstaat, on the history of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (1848-1874). After passing the Zurich bar exam, I joined the Institute of Law at the University of Zurich in 2012, where I am now a senior research associate.

As a senior research associate I teach Swiss constitutional law and conduct research. I am currently engaged in a comparative study of the incorporation of direct democracy into the system of representative government in Switzerland, the United States and Germany.

How would you describe your job to other people?Goran Seferovic standing in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

In addition to researching for my own study I have been working for the Global Legal Research Center which is the unit of the Law Library of Congress that provides research on foreign jurisdictions. In that position I participated in answering requests from the United States Congress, the federal government and even private persons, covering the jurisdictions of the German speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). I also contributed some posts to the Global Legal Monitor, a Law Library of Congress online publication that covers legal developments around the world.

Why did you want to do research at the Law Library of Congress?

Since I am comparing Switzerland, the U.S. and Germany in terms of direct democracy, I was looking for a place to access American legal resources. The vast collection of the Law Library and the attractive scholarly program that it offers inspired me to apply for a position as scholar in residence at the Law Library.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

Unlike the Swiss Parliament, the United States Congress has its own library and research services. While the Swiss Parliament has a library, the majority of legislative research is done by the federal administration, which is part of the Executive Branch. This reflects a different understanding of the principle of separation of powers in the United States and Switzerland. I was surprised to learn that the Library of Congress not only provides services to Congress and other government institutions, but also provides reference services to the public for free.

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

Before my career in law, I did an apprenticeship as a lab technician and worked at the research department of a chemical company that produces flavors and fragrances for three years.

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