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An Interview with Michael Chalupovitsch, Foreign Law Specialist

Today’s interview is with Michael Chalupovitsch, a foreign law specialist in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

Michael Chalupovitsch standing in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

Michael Chalupovitsch, photo by Kelly Goles, Law Library of Congress.

I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, home of the best bagels in the world! I come from a Jewish family; my father from Finland and my mother a Canadian. I grew up speaking English at home, but also learned French and Hebrew in school.

What is your academic/professional history?

I graduated with a Quebec civil law degree from the University of Ottawa in 2012, followed by a common law Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria in 2013. I worked on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for a time and then completed my articling term (legal apprenticeship) at a small litigation firm in Toronto, to become a member of the Law Society of Ontario. Drawn by my love of all things parliamentary, I returned to Ottawa to work at the Library of Parliament, supporting the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee, the House of Commons Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am a foreign law specialist, and answer legal research requests relating to Canada and a number of Caribbean countries. These requests can come from Congress, executive agencies, the judiciary, and even members of the public. I also monitor legal and legislative events in the countries I am responsible for, and write articles and posts for the Global Legal Monitor and the In Custodia Legis blog on topics that might be of interest to practitioners and the public. Since we cover all subject areas within our jurisdictions, there is always something new to learn during our research.

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

While many consider the British Parliament to be the “mother of parliaments,” the Law Library of Congress can be seen as having a similar status with respect to legal research and reference. As the world’s largest law library, I find it fascinating to work with the collection and expand my knowledge of my assigned countries. Working as a foreign law specialist is also a unique role where you become an expert on a whole range of jurisdictions rather than a single subject area. I can be working on family law one day and energy law the next, so there is never a boring day!

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

I was amazed by the extent of the Law Library’s stacks in the sub-basement of the James Madison Building, and how it includes extensive materials from around the globe, with every jurisdiction represented. I was also surprised that the Law Library’s holdings of legal materials for some countries is more extensive than what exits within a country itself.

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

I am an avid cook and baker, with an emphasis on local and seasonal food. Living in Washington, D.C. has the advantage of access to a wide variety of locally sourced ingredients at its amazing farmer’s markets. Working at the Library of Congress also allows me to borrow from the extensive collection of cookbooks in the catalogue!

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