Jumpstart Your Foreign, Comparative, and International Research: Use People Resources
D'Angelo Law Library
University of Chicago Law School
When we need to jumpstart our research engines to help others find information, a world of people can help us. Working as part of a global legal information community can be pretty nifty! So, if your foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) research engine won’t start, find some people you can call on for a jumpstart. They can set you in motion to find the information you need to help your users!
How can you find helpful people when stumped by an FCIL research question?
Get to know your local FCIL resource people. Get to know the folks locally in your city, your state, your region who have experience working with FCIL materials, teaching FCIL research, and answering FCIL reference questions. They’re useful first contacts for jumpstarting your FCIL research engine.
Attend your local AALL chapter's FCIL programs and get to know the speakers. Attend FCIL-related programs of other local associations and institutions. Network, network, network. It’s easier to ask people for help when you’ve met them and they know you – they’re more likely to be willing to help or they’ll know other people who can help. FCIL folks help even when they don’t know you, too.
Get to know national and international FCIL experts and how to find them. Many of the folks who specialize in FCIL sources or whose job responsibilities involve work with FCIL materials are members of our SIS. The FCIL SIS also includes members who are interested generally in the area and are willing to help though not experts. The FCIL SIS has members who have foreign language skills, who teach FCIL research, and who handle FCIL materials in various capacities. They’re up-to-date on print and electronic resources that are useful for FCIL research. The FCIL SIS Teaching Interest Group’s webpage has links to syllabi which can serve as FCIL research tools. Writers of those syllabi teach classes in FCIL research and are also potential resources for help with questions:
You can find specialists and folks interested in particular FCIL areas in FCIL SIS Interest Groups. The Interest Groups meet regularly at the AALL annual meeting. There are IGs on African Law, Asian Law, CIS and Eastern European Law, and Latin American Law. There are also the FCIL SIS Electronic Issues and Foreign Selectors Interest Groups. Chairs of those IGs can be contact persons for help with questions related to their IG topics or they might know other FCIL SIS members who can help:
You can also use the FCIL SIS discussion forum to ask your FCIL colleagues for help:
At every AALL annual meeting, the FCIL SIS has a reception for attendees from abroad. Drop in and meet some of the movers and shakers in the FCIL SIS as well as folks from the UK, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, etc. The International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) also hosts a reception at the annual meeting. It’s a place where U.S. librarians with or without expertise in FCIL research can meet non-U.S. librarians from different parts of the world. You can meet FCIL SIS members there, too.
And, if you can, try to attend the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) – a group of foreign and international law librarians usually attend that meeting (the next one is March 28-31, 2007 in Washington, D.C. - http://www.asil.org/events/am07/). IALL's yearly course on international law librarianship is also very worthwhile to attend - the next one is in Mumbai, India, in December 2007! (http://www.iall.org/iall2007/). Or try to attend the Joint Study Institutes that AALL sponsors every couple of years with ALLA, BIALL, and CALL/ACBD (JSI 2006 was in Oxford - http://www.biall.org.uk/jsi2006.asp - the next JSI will be held in 2008 in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University Law Center). Network, network, network!
Oh, the places you can go! And the people you can meet! It's great fun (and educational) to attend meetings of other law library associations such as the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians, and the Australian Law Librarians' Association. You can find out when these associations meet by checking the following:
AALL Calendar of Events
IALL International Calendar of Legal Information Events
Potential people resources to contact to jumpstart your FCIL research include your own institution's library and institutional (law school, law firm, court) staff. They might have language skills and bibliographic or substantive knowledge of an FCIL area. Also consider librarians at other law libraries in town, area studies librarians, foreign law graduates (LL.M.s.), etc. You can also contact embassies, consular offices, country desks, related government agencies, Library of Congress foreign law specialists, etc.
Libraries that have strong collections of FCIL material, or collect heavily in a particular FCIL area, usually have people who can help use the collections (see Linda Tashbook’s “Foreign Law Collections in U.S. Libraries” at http://www.law.pitt.edu/library/international/foreigncollections.php). The usual suspects – Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Chicago (;-)), etc. – have FCIL librarians who can help with any question. But always try to consult your local experts first.
An e-people resource is the INT-LAW group for discussion of foreign, comparative, and international legal research information sources. Anyone can subscribe and ask questions. INT-LAW has over 800 subscribers from all over the world and has been in existence since the early 1990s. INT-LAW was established to help librarians share FCIL information – librarian-to-librarian peer consulting on issues related to foreign, comparative, and international legal materials. INT-LAW is a virtual place where a lot of FCIL librarians and legal information professionals from all over the world hang out. Subscribers also include document and information specialists, law professors, lawyers, students, publishers, vendors, etc. The message archives and subscription form for joining INT-LAW are at:
INT-LAW is very useful, not only for help with research resources in traditional FCIL areas of interest, but with new hot topics. For instance, back in 2004 when interest in Islamic law sparked, there were several message threads posting related resources on INT-LAW.
Also, similar to the LAW-LIB list which has mostly U.S. law librarians and other information professionals on it, there are lists for UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African law librarians that you can subscribe to and ask for help. The International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) has an e-mail discussion list. Some of the lists are established by national and international law library associations. See generally:
People who write research guides or have authored FCIL-related web resources are useful contacts. They have used or reviewed resources on a particular foreign jurisdiction or international law topic. For instance, Marci Hoffman is one of the editors of the Electronic Information System for International Law (http://www.eisil.org/). She also has authored some of the pages at that website as well as the ASIL’s Electronic Resource Guide for International Law (ERG) at http://www.asil.org/resource/home.htm. Marci would be a general resource for international law research questions as well as for the specific areas on which she’s written research guides – treaty research, international human rights and international economic law.
The folks who write the research guides published at LLRX.com (http://www.llrx.com/comparative_and_foreign_law.html) and GlobaLex (http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/) are also useful resources. The authors of these guides are law librarians, lawyers, or legal information professionals in the countries they’re writing about or are very knowledgeable about those jurisdictions. They also have language skills and in-depth knowledge about the legal bibliography for those countries, so they can be of major help. So contact the people behind the curtain – the folks behind the wonderful print and electronic FCIL resources.
When do you call on others for an FCIL jumpstart?
Let’s use a specific example. A patron is looking for an English translation of a recent Chinese law. Usually, the use of “recent” and “English translation” in the same sentence is a bad omen. It’s very hard to find English translations generally, let alone for recent legislation.
My approach is to consider first the print and electronic resources on Chinese law available at my own library. Our focus at the University of Chicago D’Angelo Law Library is on West European law, so we would not have many print sources on Chinese law and nothing more specialized in terms of databases than LexisNexis or WESTLAW or free Internet resources. A quick check reveals the CHINALAWINFO database on LexisNexis isn’t up-to-date enough.
Then I consider contacting the East Asian library department at the U of C – area studies libraries are useful as they sometimes contain legal materials for the countries in that region and the librarians have the language skills to help use the collections. Then I look for expertise outside my University to the local Chicago area, and then look regionally and nationally. So I consult local resources first.
The University of Washington’s East Asian Law Library is headed by Bill McCloy. It is one of the best sources outside the Law Library of Congress for legal materials for China, Japan, Korea, etc. For the particular question the patron had, Bill McCloy came through with a resource that did the trick. And it was fast. Information in motion, yeah!
People Who Are Willing to Help You Help Your Users Who Have FCIL Research Questions
[for contact information, check the Appendix, “Jumpstarting Your FCIL Research Contacts List” at http://www.aallnet.org/sis/fcilsis/protected/Jumpstartcontacts.html (Username: fcil; Password: jumpstart)]
Afghanistan -- Omar Sial, Dr. Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai
Africa -- Victor Essien, Shirley Schröder, Nico M Ferreira (especially South Africa)
Asia -- Nelia R. Balagapo
Australia -- Petal Kinder, Lauren Stephenson (especially Queensland), James Butler, Ron Huttner, Ruth Bird
Belgium -- Montse Adam
Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Mirela Rozajac
Brazil -- Edilenice J. Lima Passos
Canada -- Neil A. Campbell, Marylin Raisch, Maria Smolka-Day (federal level)
Caribbean -- Pedro Padilla-Rosa, Marisol Floren-Romero
China (PRC) -- Bill McCloy, Wei Luo, Nongji Zhang, Robert Hu (especially Chinese Intellectual Property Law), Roy L. Sturgeon (especially Chinese Legal History)
Commonwealth -- Neil A. Campbell
Croatia -- Mirela Rozajac
Denmark -- Suzanne Thorpe, Halvor Kongshavn
East Asia -- Bill McCloy
Eastern Europe -- Radu Popa, Mirela Roznovschi, Maria Smolka-Day (selected countries)
Egypt -- Christine Anderson (Law Library, American University in Cairo)
Eritrea -- Dan Wade, Tom French
Finland – Halvor Kongshavn
France -- Claire Germain, Stéphane Cottin, Benoit Bréard, Katherine Topulos, Marylin Raisch, Montse Adam
Germany -- Silke Sahl, Dietrich Pannier ( Die Bibliothek des Bundesgerichtshofs / Federal Supreme Court Library), Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Jolande E. Goldberg, Montse Adam
Hong Kong (British Colony) -- Bill McCloy, Wei Luo
Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region, China) -- Bill McCloy, Wei Luo
Iceland – Halvor Kongshavn
India -- Sunil Rao, Katherine Topulos
Israel -- Esther M. Snyder
Italy -- Irene Berkey, Teresa Miguel, Montse Adam
Japan -- Rob Britt, Wei Luo
Jersey ( Channel Islands) -- Angela Otterwell
Korea -- Bill McCloy
Latin America -- Jonathan Pratter, Teresa Miguel, Edgardo Rotman
Macau ( China) -- Jorge Godinho
Mexico -- Francisco Avalos, Jonathan Pratter
The Netherlands -- E.R. ( René) Winter
New Zealand -- Margaret Greville
Nigeria (see Africa) -- Julie Tessmer (Rule of Law)
Norway -- Suzanne Thorpe, Halvor Kongshavn
Pakistan -- Omar Sial
The Philippines -- Nelia R. Balagapo
Poland -- Maria Smolka-Day
Portugal -- Teresa Miguel, Jorge Godinho
Romania -- Radu Popa, Mirela Roznovschi
Russia -- Lucy Cox, Maria Smolka-Day
Scandinavia -- Suzanne Thorpe, Halvor Kongshavn
Serbia -- Julie Tessmer (Rule of Law)
South Africa -- Nico M Ferreira
Spain --Teresa Miguel, Montse Adam
Sweden -- Suzanne Thorpe, Halvor Kongshavn, Ingrid Kabir
Switzerland – Alfredo Santos
Taiwan -- Bill McCloy, Wei Luo
UK -- Elizabeth Wells, Katherine Topulos (especially historical materials), Lesley Dingle, Ruth Bird, Montse Adam, Maria Smolka-Day
Canon Law -- Lucia Diamond
Council of Europe -- Stéphane Cottin
Criminal Law -- Gayle Davies (Australian and international), Edgardo Rotman (comparative, Latin America), Andrew Dorchak (international)
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) -- Stéphane Cottin, Lesley Dingle
European Legal History -- Lucia Diamond (medieval - 1900)
European Union --Duncan Alford, Marylin Raisch, Katherine Topulos, Margaret Watson (legal aspects), Lesley Dingle, Montse Adam (especially EU Competition/Antitrust Law, EU State Aid Law, EU Trade Law), Maria Smolka-Day
Foreign Law -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey
Foreign Legal Databases -- Mirela Roznovschi
Foreign Official Gazettes -- Center for Research Libraries (CRL)
GATT/World Trade Organization --Jeanne Rehberg, Mary Rumsey, Maria Smolka-Day
Indigenous Peoples Rights -- Jolande E. Goldberg
International Banking Law -- Duncan Alford
International and Comparative Disability Law -- Wendy Scott, Mary Rumsey
International Criminal Court -- Rosaria Vigorito
International Criminal Law -- Gayle Davies, Edgardo Rotman, Andrew Dorchak
International Economic Law -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Marylin Raisch, Lyonette Louis-Jacques
International Environmental Law -- Anne Burnett
International Family Law -- Marylin Raisch, David Gay
International Health Law -- David Gay
International Human Rights -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Nina Cascio, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Rosaria Vigorito
International Immigration and Refugee Law -- Wei Luo
International Intellectual Property Law -- Jonathan Franklin (also Foreign IP Law), Sarah Cox
International Law -- Mary Rumsey, Maria Smolka-Day, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Kelly Vinopal, Jolande E. Goldberg
Islamic Law -- M. Lesley Wilkins
Military Law -- Mike Yared, Joe Leavengood, Julie Tessmer
Money Laundering and Financial Crime -- Jorge Godinho
Religious Law -- Marylin Raisch, Lucia Diamond (especially historical), Jolande E. Goldberg, Joe Leavengood (general interest)
Roman Law -- Lucia Diamond
Rule of Law -- Julie Tessmer ( Serbia, Nigeria)
Treaty Research -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Maria Smolka-Day
United Nations -- Wiltrud Harms, Rosemary Noona
War Crimes -- Andrew Dorchak
You can get an idea of the depth of help possible by checking Daniel L. Wade, "List of Foreign and International Law Librarians Who Have Expressed a Willingness to Help Non-Experts," FCIL Newsletter, Feb. 1993, at 19-28. http://www.aallnet.org/sis/fcilsis/Vol7/Feb93newsletter.pdf. The resource is now somewhat out of date, as some of the people listed are no longer around.
In conclusion, people resources can really help you jumpstart your foreign and international research, so start networking today!