Friday, January 23, 2015

Truth and the Law by Meldon D. Jenkins-Jones, RPL Law Librarian

I am amazed at the substantive research happening here at the Richmond Public Law Library—the library of the City of Richmond Circuit Court—which is located on the first floor of the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library. Our library patrons have cases pending in the U. S. Supreme Court, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court and local Virginia courts, and many of them do not have lawyers, but are pursuing their legal rights and remedies “Pro Se” (self-represented). Our library is a great place to do legal research for lawyers and laymen alike, since we have a lot of legal information including books in print and on CDs—from Black’s Law Dictionary and treatises to the state and federal statutes—and dedicated computers connected to the WestlawNext, Bloomberg BNA Legal Research, and LexisNexis® databases, and a very knowledgeable law librarian! And added to all this, now we have law programming!

Teaming up with members of the local bar, we started with free, basic legal informational classes for the general public including: How to Start a Business; Estate Planning 101; Workers Compensation; and Teen Legal Empowerment—the “Know Your Rights! Community Law Series”. The classes are held at various times, and have been well attended. This year we are planning to add additional attorneys and new sessions on Employment Law, and the U. S. Constitution. Look for a different class almost every month!

Last year the legal research class for the general public included a brief history of the American legal system, the organizational structure of the federal and state court systems, and how legal cases are structured. Handouts provided links to legal websites. It ended with a tour of the law library.  This year the expanded Introduction to Legal Research Class, scheduled for Saturday, January 24th at 10:00 am, has 16 people signed up so far. In addition to this general orientation to legal research, this Spring, Thomson Reuters has agreed to send a trainer to teach using WestlawNextTM for computerized legal research on the two law library computers. There will be two classes, one for the general public on Monday, March 2nd at 10:30 am, and one for attorneys. Attending lawyers will have the option of receiving Continuing Legal Education credit for their participation.

Another program in the development stage is Law Career Day to encourage local high school and college students to consider careers in law librarianship as well as other areas of the law, so stay tuned for more law happenings at the library. Our Richmond Public Law Library is providing valuable resources to all members of the Richmond community!

No comments: