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An Interview with Ben Hills, Foreign Law Intern

Today’s interview is with Ben Hills, a foreign law intern working with Clare Feikert-Ahalt at the Global Legal Research Directorate, Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I am from the United Kingdom, England specifically, and grew up in the East Midlands. I only really speak English, but am familiar with French, German, Latin, and a little Ancient Greek thanks to studying them at school.

What is your academic/professional history?

I attended the University of Nottingham and completed a bachelor of science joint honors degree in physics and philosophy. I went on to attend Birmingham City University, where I completed a post-graduate diploma in law (PGDL). I am currently studying for my master of laws degree (LL.M.).

As part of my undergraduate degree, I wrote my dissertation on the “Philosophy of Jury Nullification” and, as part of my PGDL, my independent project compared the laws of cryptocurrencies in the UK and U.S. – a subject in which the Law Library is itself interested. My current internship with the Law Library of Congress represents a significant portion of the research for my LL.M.

Ben Hills. [Photo by Donna Sokol.]

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am currently an intern for the Global Legal Research Directorate and am working under the supervision of Clare Feikert-Ahalt, senior foreign law specialist for British and Commonwealth jurisdictions. We receive requests from the U.S. Congress, executive agencies, the federal judiciary, and from the public and conduct research into the law of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories and nations of the Commonwealth, including Caribbean nations and other former British colonies.

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

The Law Library of Congress is one of the premier law libraries in the world, with the world’s largest collection of legal texts, and an internship represented a significant opportunity to both expand my legal knowledge and sharpen my research skills and writing abilities. Also, the Law Library’s commitment to providing information about and truly understanding other nations and cultures is a beacon of hope in a world where sometimes it appears close-mindedness and fear may be winning. Finally, the Library happens to be located in one of my favorite cities in the world, Washington D.C., which is a big positive!

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

The sheer number of texts that the Law Library has in its collections is ridiculous! The Law Library has roughly 2.9 million volumes in collections that span every jurisdiction from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, with over 8000m2 of compact shelving space on the basement floor to hold them all – that is the equivalent of almost two football fields of books! Furthermore, the Library’s collections are constantly growing as countries publish new laws, amend old laws, and further develop their legal infrastructure  – ensuring that the world’s largest collection is only getting larger as time goes on!

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

While I listen to hip-hop and rap, I also like classical music and was a tenor in a choir that sang in cathedrals in Italy, Spain, and Poland, as well as in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. I used to play the piano and the drums (although never at the same time!), too.   

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