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This image shows Laura Schwarz standing in front of the court in Cologne.
Laura Schwarz, foreign law intern. Photo courtesy of Laura Schwarz.

An Interview with Laura Schwarz, Foreign Law Intern

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Today’s interview is with Laura Schwarz, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist Jenny Gesley in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. 

Describe your background.

I am originally from Bochum, a city in the center of the Ruhr region in western Germany, where I grew up with two younger siblings. As a famous German musician sings, “Bochum is not a beauty,” but the warm and direct people make up for it. In school, I had a great enthusiasm for writing and languages. I finished high school with a dual qualification, Abitur/ Baccalauréat, meaning a German and a French degree.

What is your academic/professional history?

In 2014, I started studying law at the University of Cologne, Germany. To put the skills I had learned in school to good use and because I wanted to go abroad, I took the DFM German-French Law Program, a multi-degree program that results in participants obtaining three different degrees after studying German, French, and European Law in Cologne and Paris, France.

Back in Cologne, I took the first German state exam and started a two-year traineeship program, which is necessary to qualify as a lawyer in Germany. During this time, I had the opportunity to work in court, at the public prosecutor’s office, in a law firm, and at the German Federal Foreign Office.

How would you describe your job to other people?

As a foreign law intern in the Global Legal Research Directorate, I assist my supervisor, Jenny Gesley, with providing high-level expertise on the law of German-speaking jurisdictions and the European Union in response to requests from Congress, executive agencies, courts, and the general public submitted to the Law Library. I also write updates for the Global Legal Monitor and blog posts about recent, interesting topics for In Custodia Legis. I enjoy the variety of my work as no two assignments are alike and there is no such thing as a daily routine.

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

I have always been interested in legal research, but it was only through the German-American Lawyers’ Association (Deutsch-amerikanische Juristen-Vereinigung e.V., DAJV) that I learned about the opportunity to intern at the Law Library of Congress, and I was immediately excited. It is the largest law library in the world and a leading legal research institution at the intersection of policy and research. It is also a great opportunity to meet experts who have first-hand knowledge of different legal systems.

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

I am fascinated by the library’s many buildings, which are connected by a system of tunnels. Nowadays the tunnels are mainly used as pedestrian walkways and there are even cafes down there, but I learned that the tunnels were used as an elaborate system for delivering books in the past.

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

I like to relax with handicrafts, whether it be crocheting, knitting, or sewing. I am always trying new techniques and challenging myself. My friends and family enjoy my many homemade gifts, and I am always happy to see the finished product made with my own hands.


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