This week’s interview is with Jeffrey Harris, who is working at the Law Library of Congress on a four month rotation as part of a two year Presidential Management Fellows Program.
1. Describe your background.
2. What is your academic/professional history?
I stayed in the Shenandoah Valley and went to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. There I double majored in journalism and public policy. I also graduated from the Honors Program where I wrote my senior thesis on the right of publicity and how the right differs between celebrities, athletes, and ordinary citizens.
After undergrad, I decided to come back to Northern Virginia and attend the George Mason School of Law where I had a concentration in communications law. Supplementing my great experience at GMU were my amazing and fulfilling internships at the Alexandria City Attorney’s Office, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Association of Broadcasters.
Before the end of my time at GMU Law, I was accepted into the Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF), which is a two-year program that helps to place finalists with advanced degrees in government agencies with a focus of fostering the development of leadership skills. I took (and thankfully passed) the New York Bar in July 2016 and will be sworn-in later next month. I started at the Library of Congress in the Office of the General Counsel in August 2016 and began working in the Law Library in March 2017 as part of a four month rotation required by the PMF program.
3. How would you describe your job to other people?
This is always an interesting task because people have repeatedly asked me “Why does the Library need lawyers?” For the Office of the General Counsel, I have worked on a wide spectrum of projects, but tend to focus on collections and copyright issues. One of the coolest parts of my job is working with gift agreements which help donors contribute artifacts to the Library.
In the Law Library, I have the luxury of not being in one particular department which allows me to assist all of the Law Library in everything from congressional research about impending issues to brainstorming ideas for the Law Library blog.
4. Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
What initially struck me about the Law Library was the ability to write in a non-legal setting. The Law Library works on a broad range of writing projects that require different styles of writing. At any given moment in a day, you may have to use the more formal research style writing, and then switch to the informative yet digestible style of writing for something like a press release, and then switch again to the much more laid-back style of blogging.
5. What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?
That would have to be the depth and breadth of the collection of the Law Library. I didn’t have to work at the Library long before I heard the phrase “The Law Library is the largest law library in the world.” However, I did not fully appreciate the size of the collection until I started working here. What has also struck me are the different types of mediums for storing that information. This includes not just volumes and volumes (and volumes) of books, but also everything from digital databases to microfiche (which I actually got to use for the first time).
6. What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I have watched A LOT of movies over the course of my life from many different decades which has led me to become really good at the six degrees of separation game with movie stars. The game is you say two different actors or actresses and then have to connect them with people they starred with. For example, if I had to connect Will Smith to Samuel L. Jackson, I would say that Will Smith starred in Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum who costarred with Samuel L. Jackson in Jurassic Park. It’s really nerdy but also a fun game/challenge and encourages me to go see new movies.