Friday, September 02, 2011

Intro to the Law Library. How I Got My Start: Going West Part 2

As I stated on my previous posts after graduating from college, I relocated to Dallas, Texas working for a staffing agency that provided me steady temporary assignments. In November 2004, I was hired permanently as a litigation file clerk at Thompson & Knight. During my new employee orientation, I met Deinna Mims-Johnson, Research Librarian at the firm. She provided me and other new hires a tour of the library along with explaining the resources and information available for the attorneys and staff. I was in awe because that my was first time seeing an in-house library at a law office. I was accustomed to seeing a library in a law school because of my work experience back home. After her portion of the orientation was completed, I briefly talked with Deinna about my background working at the law school. Little did I know, that short introduction would make an impact on me.

After working at the law firm for quite sometime, I decided I wanted to go to graduate school. However, I did not know which college or program to enroll at that time. I was still trying to get into journalism, particularly freelance, but I realized I no longer had the fire and desire to do it. One day, after reviewing my resume, my supervisor who was new to the firm suggested I should contact then library manager of the Dallas office, Angela Kubala (now Kennedy) to simply introduce myself. During lunch, Angela recommended that I read the University of North Texas' Library Science Graduate Program, particularly the Librarianship and Legal Informatics Specialist program headed by Dr. Yvonne Chandler.

After awhile, I was still contemplating whether I should pursue the graduate program. February 2006, I had lunch with Deinna to discuss the opportunities and her perspective on professional librarianship. I found out all the different areas and subjects one can work: public, academic, government, law, medical and etc. I could not believe no one knew about this silent profession. I assume people do not see information professionals as important compare to professional programs such as Business, Engineering, Medical and Law School where graduates get lucrative salaries. Anyway, about two weeks after our conversation, I immediately applied for the program. Three months later, I was accepted as a graduate student at UNT under the law librarianship program. Because I was working full-time, I was a part-time student and I primarily paid my way to school because I did not want to put myself in financial hardship with student loans.

In the fall of 2006, I enrolled in my first class SLIS 5200 and it was located at the UNT Dallas Campus (on Hampton and I-20). Some of my favorite and challenging classes were SLIS 5600 and 5647 because those courses were research and internet based. I knew after taking those classes, I was interested in research. I really enjoyed the information hunts, particularly in my legal research class where me and a classmate would go to SMU Law Library and conduct research the old school method of relying on books and not the legal databases: LexisNexis and Westlaw. I still have my PDF notes, Legal Research in a Nutshell book and the Bluebook Citation guide. Those are legal treasures to me and will be very useful one day.

During my time at UNT, I managed to become a student member at the Dallas Association of Law Librarians (DALL). I had the opportunity to meet my fellow classmates, Kim Ross-Winston of Hughes & Luce (now K&L Gates) and Clarence Robertson of Jackson Walker in DALL. I still keep in touch with them. Also, being a DALL member introduced me to Jane Reynolds, Kevin Miles, Barbara Fullerton, Terri Lawrence, Donna Bostic and others. I remember at my first DALL meeting, Dr. Herman Totten was the guest speaker. During his speech, I looked around the conference room and said to myself in silence, "this is where I belong." Meaning, somehow or someway, I will be a part of this community.

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