Law Librarian Job Hunting

Though I have been accused of having “grizzly bear” hair by a certain toddler who shares a house with me, I have not been hibernating for the winter. I would not hold it against you if you thought that was the case, though–it has been a couple of months since I’ve posted a blog. But unlike those comatose endotherms who are contently slumbering away another cold and snowy winter, I have been (relatively) busy. The big news is, I have a new job. I am now a Manager of Library Services at a different AmLaw 100 firm (check out my LinkedIn page if you really curious as to which firm. Also, all the opinions I write here are my own, and not my current firm’s).

Admittedly, it has been on a long time since I was on the job hunt carousel, and I had to re-familiarize and re-learn some things. I certainly do not claim to be a job hunting expert, but I would like to point out a couple of things that were an invaluable benefit to me, and would benefit anybody currently embarking upon or considering hunting for a new position in law librarianship. 

BE ACTIVE IN YOUR LOCAL AALL CHAPTER

Law librarianship is a pretty unique industry and niche, and AALL-chapter members tend to form close circles. What this means is, if you do join and volunteer for an AALL chapter, you will assuredly be in a position to rub elbows with your local librarian compatriots, including, potentially, those who may be responsible for hiring staff. And the networking itself is easy: we are all encountering shades of the same industry issues, and it’s nice to reach out to like-minded folks. Through what other means would you be able to meet all the local people working in a position similar to yours? I can definitively say I would not have been in a position to meet my region’s law librarians without being active in my AALL-chapter.

Local chapters are always encouraging volunteerism and support–they essentially rely on both to survive. And, yes, it can seem a little anxiety-inducing to take on responsibilities in addition to the ones you may already have at your actual workplace. But, working on chapter projects offers a variety of benefits. Again, projects create an excellent networking opportunity. But, also, they give you a chance to develop a part of your skillset that you may not be able to at your workplace, or through other means. A reference librarian certainly needs to show they are capable of handling typical reference librarian duties, but the real exceptional candidates are those who have extra experience and qualifications. Examples of this include experience giving presentations, writing, or working on projects at a local chapter or for AALL. Just that little bit extra can make all of the difference, and make you stand out as an exceptional candidate. Again, in my case, I was lucky enough to give presentations to the very people who would later determine if I made a good candidate for an open position. As with any self-marketing endeavor, the key to success is to stand out just a little bit from the other potential candidates–working for a chapter gives you opportunities to do just this.

CHAPTER JOB HUNTING RESOURCES 

Chapters also tend to have job hunting resources. For example, some chapters post job openings on a dedicated page on their site (here’s ALLUNY’s, for example, and GPLLA’s has both local and AALL’s on their right column), others employ listservs to email new position openings to their membership. These resources can be beneficial, even if you are not actively hunting for a position. These information sources provide a convenient way to keep tabs on your particular job market locally, and can help you answer questions such as: is the job market stable in this location, is there a lot of turnover in this location or at a particular firm, are there new positions being created? Long story short, there are benefits to this information, even for those who are comfortable in their current position. And, if we realize it or not, I think we are all always at least passively job hunting.

Happy (active or passive) hunting!

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