I completed my two week practicum at Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) just over a week ago and am happy to report that it was a worthwhile and interesting experience. Having only been introduced to the idea of legal librarianship through my first semester in library school (I was a Jan 2014 intake), I was interested in getting a taste of this sort of corporate/private sector librarianship and experiencing what it would be like to work in a non-traditional library environment. BLG was kind enough to take me on and provide me with this experience.
BLG, being one of the bigger national firms and, I believe, the second biggest firm in Vancouver, was a great place to experience legal librarianship. I got to work with a team of two library technicians and two librarians (although one was away on holiday and graciously let me sit at her desk). During my time at BLG I got an opportunity to try a variety of tasks and was treated as a valuable member of the library team.
I can’t say I had a set routine, but rather was given a few projects to work on while I was there and had the opportunity to try out different things as the came up. Some of the tasks I was able to help out with included: shelving and library maintenance, filing of incoming updates to current holdings, media monitoring on specific topics, pulling cases for legal assistants, researching topics of interest for the library, undergoing quicklaw training, updating a “Top Five” list of key resources for different areas of law, and conducting mock reference interviews.
As I am not really qualified to do reference for complex legal questions, the librarians collected a sample of previously asked questions that I was then tasked to come up with answers to. This sort of legal research was interesting and gave me a bit of insight into what being a legal librarian is like and how much skill and knowledge it takes to be proficient.
Although two weeks is a short time to spend in a work environment, I think it was enough to give me a sense of what the job could be like and what working in a law firm would entail. It was nice to be surrounded with professionals doing important work. My sense was that the library played an important role in the functioning of the firm and that the librarians were well respected and utilized by the lawyers and other staff.
In the end, working at BLG was a wonderful experience. I felt like I was utilized as much as possible and felt welcomed by the staff. Getting to go to work everyday in Waterfront Centre and having a staff espresso machine wasn’t so bad either 😉