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An Interview with Nezihe Fazilet, Law Library Foreign Law Consultant

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Nezihe Fazilet standing in the main hall of the Library of Congress.
Photographed by Nezihe Fazilet

Today’s interview is with Nezihe Fazilet. Nezihe is a Law Library foreign law consultant in the Global Legal Research Directorate at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background

I was born in Kayseri, Turkey into a traditional Turkish family and lived there until I graduated from high school. Then my family moved to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where I lived for more than ten years. After I left my job at the Turkish Parliament (Grand National Assembly of Turkey/TBMM), I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where my husband has been working on his PhD in economics at the University of Minnesota since 2012. I, my husband, and our 3-year-old twin boys currently live in Minneapolis, but we are expected to move to D.C. next year upon my husband’s graduation.

What is your academic/professional history?

I received a B.A. in economics from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey with a full scholarship. After completing my undergraduate studies, I attended graduate school in economics at Bilkent University and TOBB University of Economics and Technology.  I also worked as a teaching assistant in both universities. After that, I started working for the Turkish Parliament as a legal specialist and served on parliamentary committees, including the Committee on European Union Affairs and the Committee on Gender Equality. While working for the Turkish Parliament, I spent a month in 2012 at the Law Library of Congress as a participant of the Professional Fellows Program (PFP) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. During my fellowship at the Law Library, I prepared a project on fostering the relationship between the Library of Congress and the Turkish Parliament. The project was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and conducted by my supervisor, Senior Legal Research Analyst Wendy Zeldin and then-Assistant Law Librarian Robert Newlen.

How would you describe your job to other people?

At the Law Library, under the supervision of Wendy Zeldin, I conduct research on requests regarding Turkey in terms of both legal and political developments. In addition, I review the Guide to Law Online Turkey page to ensure it is up to date. I also had the opportunity to observe how the legal research needs of all three branches of the U.S. government and the general public are answered here at the Law Library.

Why did you want to come to the Law Library of Congress?

When I first came to Washington D.C. as a legislative fellow in 2012, I was placed at the Law Library of Congress by the PFP program. I was working for the Turkish Parliament and I knew that there are agencies that conduct legal research at the Library of Congress; however, I had no idea that it might have such a great team of legal specialists and a huge collection from all around the world. Being able to be a part of the work here gives me a feeling of professional fulfillment. I am so glad to be back in the Law Library.

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

First and foremost, the size of the Library is remarkable; it has the largest law collection, millions of items from all around the world. I was quite amazed when I found Ottoman legislation from the nineteenth century when I was looking for a book in the sub-basement stacks. It is amazing that copies of most of the legislation in the world are stored in the Law Library and that one can even find laws that were destroyed by the previous regimes in Iraq or Afghanistan!

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

I am quite interested in architecture, especially the Renaissance period. I even wrote a paper on Brunelleschi’s Dome when I was in college. I admire all the proportions and geometry behind that beauty.

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