Law Librarians Make a Splash in Boston

Faculty from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Law Library at William S. Richardson presented at numerous panels at the annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries in Boston on July 15-18, 2023.

Vicki Szymczak (University of Hawaiʻi), Victor Chavez (Sheppard Mullin), and Beth Donahue (NCBE) presented on a panel called “What You Need to Know About the Next Gen Bar Exam” on July 17, 2023. The panel was moderated by Dennis Kim Prieto (Rutgers University). Beth gave an update on the progress on the NextGen bar exam. Victor shared the perspective of law firms and how they will be tracking new associates who have taken this bar exam and comparing them to previous associates. There are varying modalities of legal research at US law schools: some taught by law librarians as a full course, other models where research and writing are combined in a course. Some librarians don’t teach legal research at all and only provide one-shot instruction as needed. Vicki recommended “librarians take back legal research and incorporate analysis into their curriculum, especially since Legal Research will be a bar exam tested skill.” The Next Generation (NextGen) Bar exam will replace the current Bar exam in 2026. The NCBE has content scope outlines detailing topics tested on the new Bar exam and will release more NextGen specifics in 2024.

man and two women presenting
(Left to right: Victor Chavez, Vicki Szymczak, Beth Donahue)

Vicki also moderated a panel on “Researching the Implementation of Foreign and International Law on International Indigenous Peoples”. The panel included Alexander Burdett (NYU Law Library) and Christopher Dykes (University of Houston Law Library). The program was sponsored by the Foreign, Comparative & International Law Special Interest Section and organized by Marcelo Rodriguez (University of Arizona Law Library).

slide of presentation with names of presenters and their headshots

The program centered on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Professor Szymczak began the discussion introducing the historical events leading up to the General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration, pointing out its shortcomings in global application. After Mr. Dykes’ review of resources needed for in depth research on this topic, Mr. Burdett concluded with a country analysis using Canada as his example.

woman at podium holding cellphone

Librarian Keiko Okuhara coordinated three programs:

  • “FOLIO” (Future of Libraries Is Open). This program discussed challenges and opportunities around open-source library systems platforms.
  • “Batch Please: Leveraging Batch Record Loading for Integrated Library System Improvements and Enhancing Resource Discovery” introduced a fresh perspective on batch record loading including Institutional Repositories (IRs) and identified specific tools for transferring, downloading, uploading, and working with batches of records.
  • “Discovering Diversity through Linked Data” talked about how Linked Data to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our online library catalog. 

Keiko also finished her role as Chair of the AALL Library Systems and Resource Discovery Special Interest Section (LSRD-SIS) at the conference. She will continue to serve on the LSRD-SIS Executive Board as Past Chair.

people standing against wall
(Left to Right: Jake Kubrin, Juliet Hardesty, Keiko Okuhara, Joe Cera)

Electronic Services Librarian Brian Huffman is the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Legal Innovation & Technology Special Interest Section (LIT-SIS). Brian coordinated an off-site social and educational event during the conference on July 17 at the Suffolk University Law School’s Legal Innovation & Technology Lab. Quinten Steenhuis (Practitioner in Residence at Suffolk University Law School and Founder at Lemma Legal) gave a presentation on the work being conducted at the LIT lab.

people standing around tables socializing
room with tables, chairs, projection screen and widows looking out at trees

Richard Buckingham (Director of the Law Library & Information Resources and Assoc. Prof. of Legal Research at Suffolk University Law School) gave the attendees a tour of the library. There was appreciation for those who attended and braved the bad air quality Boston suffered that day.

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