The Law Library has suffered an immeasurable loss with the passing of Nicolas Boring, our foreign law specialist for French-speaking jurisdictions. His colleagues, former and current, will remember and miss interesting conversations with him, his kindness, his knowledge, and his warm and positive nature. He went out of his way to assist patrons, support colleagues, and mentor the many interns who worked with him over the years.
Nicolas started at the Law Library in 2013, following around 10 years of working in private practice in Washington, D.C. Before that, he studied law in France, obtaining a Licence de Droit from the Université de Paris 10 Nanterre (now Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense). He then obtained a J.D. from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He also later obtained a master’s degree in international politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales.
Right from his interview for the foreign law specialist position, Nicolas displayed his passion and curiosity regarding history, law, politics, and international events. And what better place for him than here at the Law Library! He loved his job, and this showed in his dedication and the scope and depth of his work for a wide range of patrons, including congressional staff, executive branch agencies, federal courts, and the public. He also wrote or assisted with numerous posts for this blog, using his wonderful conversational style of writing. His webinars on global artificial intelligence regulation and on the French Civil Code were similarly engaging. He presented at major conferences, such as the annual meetings of the American Association of Law Libraries and the American Society of International Law, and represented the Law Library during a visit by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. And, of course, he wrote many, many articles and reports that can be found on the Law Library’s website.
Nicolas also had various interests and passions outside of work. He was creative and patient, having a love of painting and, in more recent years, of woodworking, making several beautiful pieces of furniture.
While it is difficult to put into words how much we will miss him, and how much we appreciated him and enjoyed working with him, the below comments from his friends and colleagues at the Law Library and beyond show the impact that he had on so many people. I was his supervisor for the past two years, and worked with him for many years before that. He was the kind of genuine, honest person who you could trust with anything, and who you knew would work diligently and enthusiastically on any task. He was also funny, interesting, and kind, and I was continually amazed at his approach to life, to his work, and to other people during the past two years.
Aslihan Bulut, Law Librarian of Congress:
Nicolas was such a wonderful person, and he truly loved his job and his many friends at the Law Library. I cannot fully express how much he will be missed, and how grateful I am to have known and worked with him. His expertise and his dedication will remain part of his legacy, but – above all– we will miss his kindness and positivity, the interesting conversations, and his warm and welcoming attitude to everyone he encountered.
Jenny Gesley, foreign law specialist:
Nicolas was more than just a colleague; he was a friend. When I started at the Law Library, he was one of the first people to welcome me and introduce me to everyone. His office was opposite mine, so he would frequently stop by for a “quick chat.” You could talk about anything with him and he was not shy to share personal experiences; the good and the bad. I also vividly remember his “coucou, chérie” when he talked to his wife on the phone and the cute pictures of his son that he would proudly share with us. I will miss him.
George Sadek, foreign law specialist:
Nicolas was my office mate. I remember our side talks and our jokes. He treated me with love and respect. I enjoyed every minute of our conversations. Nicolas was a good friend and a wonderful office mate. I have no words to describe how much I will miss him.
Gustavo Guerra, foreign law specialist:
Nicolas was a great colleague and a talented lawyer. In 2021, he presented a webinar on the Napoleonic Code’s history and legacy, during which he discussed the Code’s impact on other countries around the world, including many in Latin America. This is a master class on a very important topic of civil law, which has been widely viewed and praised.
Nicolas was one of a kind and we miss him very much. The memories of his years at the Law Library and his body of work will live on for years to come.
Ruth Levush, foreign law specialist:
Nicolas was a very kind, warm, humble, and cooperative colleague and friend. Highly intelligent, Nicolas was also a gifted artist. I admired his water paint artworks. I especially remember our conversations on family. When Thomas arrived, he was beyond happy. He always spoke lovingly about his wife, Erin. I will miss his positive outlook on life and warm smile.
Norma Gutierrez, retired foreign law specialist:
I was saddened and shocked to learn the news in my retirement that my former colleague at the Law Library, Nicolas, was called home to his Creator at such a young age. The years he and I worked in adjoining offices flashed through my mind. I remembered that our then-supervisor, Edith Palmer (RIP), when she was giving me a ride home from work, told me: “the Law Library already hired the new Foreign Law Specialist who will cover the French speaking countries. He is going to start soon and everybody will like him because he has a very nice personality.”
Edith was right. The Law Library has lost not only a competent and very productive employee, but also someone who was a very good person, characterized by his kindness and friendliness. He was a gentleman who always offered a smile to the person in front of him. I always admired his generosity with his work time, because since the beginning of his tenure in the Law Library he offered to have interns under his guidance, despite his heavy workload.
Nicolas’s sharing of the progress of his illness and his emotions with courage and openness serves as testimony to his many qualities as a person. We will always remember him fondly. My condolences to his wife, his young son, and the rest of his family.
Theresa Papademetriou, retired foreign law specialist:
The news on the passing of Nicolas saddened me very much. It still is very hard to accept the news. I was his mentor for six months on European Union issues when he first arrived at the Law Library. From the beginning, I was impressed with his analytical skills and his penmanship. He was a gentle and kind person and he was very appreciative of my assistance. He was eager to learn and very happy that he joined the team in the Law Library. The Law Library lost a great staff member!
Luis Acosta, chief, Law Library Editing and Publishing Office:
I had the privilege of serving as Nicolas’s supervisor from late 2014 through 2020. He was truly a joy to work with. Despite a heavy and stressful workload serving as the Law Library’s foreign law specialist for practically all the francophone jurisdictions of the world, Nicolas never complained, and seemed to genuinely enjoy his work. He graciously accommodated patrons asking for short turnaround times. He was an excellent writer whose work rarely needed editing.
Nicolas touched so many people’s lives in positive ways. The Law Library’s database shows that Nicolas worked on 986 patron responses during his tenure here. I can attest that Nicolas made sure each and every one of those responses were authoritative and provided valuable information to these many patrons. And his work here was just one part of Nicolas’s contribution to the world. It’s unspeakably unfair that Nicolas was taken from us so early, but he accomplished so much while he was here.
Heather Casey, Law Library writer/editor:
I met Nicolas in 2018 at the IALL annual meeting in Luxembourg. From our first conversation, I could see what a warm person he was. We stayed in touch, meeting for the occasional lunch before I joined the Law Library of Congress. After I came on board, we had several opportunities to chat when we were both in the office at the same time. Nicolas was the kind of person you could easily spend upwards of a half hour talking to without noticing the time go by. He was so friendly. One thing that struck me was how open he was about his diagnosis. Nicolas wasn’t afraid to talk about how he was feeling, about what it meant for the future, and about what really mattered to him (his wife and his child and building memories they could cherish after he was gone). It was touching and also maybe one of the best examples I’ve seen of true bravery. Nicolas was courageous in a way I can only hope to be someday. He knew his time was limited but he chose to face that knowledge with good humor and grace. We were all lucky to know him and he will be greatly missed.
Molly O’Casey, former foreign law intern:
Nicolas was one of my first supervisors and remains one of my favorites.
I was assigned to work with Nicolas as a summer intern for the Law Library of Congress. We bonded over having grown up between France and Texas. Nicolas had a very kind and gentle approach, which was complemented by a silly, and, on occasion, bitingly French, sense of humor. As I was making the awkward transition from university to a professional career, he provided exactly the type of guidance and energy I needed.
On a slower day at the Law Library, I fell asleep at my desk. I woke up to laughter, as my fellow interns explained to me that Nicolas had come over to talk to me, saw that I was asleep, and wordlessly left me to nap.
I will always think of Nicolas’s compassionate and down to earth work style as an example of how to be a great mentor and legal professional.
Julie Schwarz, former foreign law intern:
Nicolas was a very considerate and kind person. When I first applied to the Law Library of Congress during my LL.M. degree, I was very torn between working at the Law Library or a law firm. Nicolas sensed my indecision, and he offered to be a sounding board. He gave very thoughtful advice and helped me reflect on my goals and what each path would bring me, without pushing me one way or another. He ended up helping me do both, and I’m very grateful I got to work with him.
Baptiste Beurrier, former foreign law intern:
Nicolas was, throughout my time at the Law Library of Congress, a supervisor who wanted to see me progress. His advice is still with me in my work today. He quickly gave me confidence and delegated to me more and more important and interesting tasks. He was always ready to discuss with me, even when work and illness took his time. His courage in the face of illness, and his determination to do all he could as his health deteriorated, touched me greatly. I am infinitely grateful for the time I was able to spend with him.
Jessica Ho-Wo-Cheong, former foreign law intern:
Nicolas was warm and welcoming from the first day we met. He was very generous with his time and always willing to share ideas, not only with respect to legal research, but also the best food and snacks around Washington. Although we only collaborated for a brief period, his kindness and empathy shone through all our interactions.
Henri Barbeau, former foreign law intern:
I met Nicolas in the summer of 2019, when I was one of those lucky law students from Montreal selected for a two-month internship at the Law Library of Congress.
Nicolas and I had an immediate affinity, thanks in large part to a shared knowledge of French as well as a shared interest in history and comparative law.
But beyond these superficial points in common, I was immediately struck by Nicolas’s kind and easy-going manner. There was nothing remotely self-involved or arrogant about him, an often rare quality in our chosen profession, sadly. He was the kind of boss from whom the expression “my door is always open” never sounded like a cliché, who would answer any question, no matter how frivolous it might seem, without condescension or snark. And most importantly, he seemed to take a genuine interest in ensuring the Law Library interns were integrating well with the rest of the office and making the most of their sojourn in D.C.
His is a great loss to the Law Library.
Jennifer Davis, collection manager, Global Legal Collections Directorate:
Nicolas will be missed for his kindness and good humor. He was committed to his collections work and a pleasure to work with on acquisitions; he was always willing to step in to help when assistance was needed.
Angela Kinney, chief, ALAWE Division of Library Services:
Nicolas’s love of the Library of Congress and of France was obvious in the way he approached his work with passion and seriousness. We will miss seeing him at work, and take comfort in having known someone so genteel and warm of spirit.
Erika Spencer, reference specialist, France, European Reading Room:
It is rare that someone possesses such professional expertise and at the same time exudes the warmth and eagerness to help that Nicolas showed to all he met. It seems to me that Nicolas was a deeply philosophical man. He was incredibly brave and present in facing his life during these last very painful months. He will be greatly missed.
Monique Graham, head of Benelux, France, and Italy (BFI) acquisitions section:
I recall my last meeting with Nicolas this past summer when the BFI Section vendors were in town for ALA. Our French law books vendor was at the meeting and Nicolas spoke about his illness with such calmness and peace and I thought, this is a very brave man. I remember the sadness I felt when he told us that his son Thomas was only three. He mentioned that he was planning a trip with his family to France in August to say his goodbyes. Unfortunately, he had to postpone it until September due to some medical treatments. I never got a chance to ask him if he went but I know he had a very fond place in his heart for France. Whenever he came to the BFI Section to review the LAW receipts he was always happy and you could tell he really loved his job. I know that it is extremely hard on his family and I wish them all my deepest condolences.
Donna Sokol, program management specialist, Library of Congress Internship and Fellowship Programs office:
Nicolas was always smiling. He loved being a father and beamed with pride when he told us about the birth of his son, Thomas. At our morning catch-ups at the tea kettle, he reported on his son’s milestones, shared his latest woodworking project, and talked about his travels and life in France. We will miss his gentle nature and collegiality.
Mirela Savic-Fleming, special assistant to the Law Librarian of Congress:
I used to tease Nicolas that after three years of seeing him in the office every day, I was still waiting for a day when he would appear in my doorway in a grumpy mood. “Why would I do that,” he joked, “when I can show you Thomas’s newest photo and tell you how much fun we had yesterday.” He loved talking about his family, and I loved hearing his stories. He will be missed very much.
Elizabeth Osborne, chief, Law Library Public Services Division:
I enjoyed running into Nicolas and chatting as the kettle boiled. He was always eager to pull out his phone and share photos of his son. He was kind, curious, and funny.
Robert Brammer, chief, Law Library Office of External Relations:
I will remember Nicolas as someone who had many interests and who was always interested in learning something new. I enjoyed talking with Nicolas about historical laws that he had come across during his research, as well as his many interests outside of work. He was passionate about flight simulators, martial arts, and even woodworking. He showed me some photos of some projects he was working on, and I remember that he built a toy chest for his son, Thomas. My grandfather built a similar toy chest for me, so that conversation stayed with me. He will be missed.
What a beautiful tribute.
I would like to add to these beautiful and moving tributes. Nicolas was for me a great resource given our mutual interest in civil law systems, and while my conversational French is lagging, at least I read it such that I would come across puzzles in my legal research into some matter in assisting professors with academic research. Nicolas was someone I could turn to- as a last resort only because I knew he was busy-and he aways had the most helpful suggestions, but also the most kind and considerate openness to assisting colleagues beyond the LLC. What a great loss, and my heart goes out to his family.
(M. Raisch, Retired Associate Director for Research & Collection Development, Georgetown Law, Washington DC)
To my Law Library family, what a wonderful tribute to an amazing colleague. Hugs on his loss, as well as the loss of Margaret Wood and Pamela Barnes Craig.