Law Librarians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To become a law librarian, you will need to go to college and graduate school, so it is necessary to take college preparatory courses while in high school. Classes in civics, government, and history will give you a useful introduction to law. English and computer science classes will also help you prepare for learning the skills you will need as a librarian. Take advantage of any assignments or classes that will allow you to build useful library research skills, such as writing a paper for your English or history class.

Postsecondary Training

A liberal arts college education will give you a well-rounded educational background. Consider taking some computer classes, since computers are used frequently in the modern library. You should also consider taking classes that strengthen your writing and communication skills, and any classes that have a strong focus on research methodology. While many accredited library schools do not require any introductory courses in library science as an undergraduate, it is a good idea to check with the schools you are considering for any specific requirements they may have.

The vast majority of law librarians have a master’s degree—generally a master of library science (M.L.S.) or master of library and information science (M.L.I.S.). In fact, most positions in this field require a M.L.S./M.L.I.S. The graduate school you choose should be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA), as some law libraries do not consider job applicants who attended an unaccredited school.

A typical library study graduate program will include courses in reference and research work, cataloging, computers, library organization, collection management, and administration; a program with a focus on information science will include courses in the computer sciences, mathematics, and systems analysis.

According to the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), program material geared for those specifically interested in a career as a law librarian should include courses focusing on the legal system—its branches and procedures; the legal profession and related terminology; literature of the law, such as print and electronic resources; and ethical considerations when dealing with the law.

According to the AALL, "about one-third of all law librarians also have a law degree (J.D.) from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, but fewer than 20 percent of the law librarian positions being filled require both degrees." Some schools offer a joint J.D./M.L.S. degree, in which a student can earn a law degree and a library degree simultaneously.

Other Education or Training

The American Association of Law Libraries offers webinars, a Leadership Academy, and professional development opportunities at its annual conference. The American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, and other organizations also provide continuing education opportunities. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

No certification or licensing is available for law librarians. Librarians who earn a law degree must be admitted to the bar of that state before they can practice. They require that applicants graduate from an approved law school and that they pass a written examination in the state in which they intend to practice.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as an intern, volunteer, or part-time employee at a law library or other library is recommended.  

Librarians must understand how libraries operate; they should have a broad knowledge of the law as well as the ability to do research. Librarians should have computer skills and know how to obtain information using technological resources.  They need effective written and verbal skills to present research information to lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals.

A law librarian must have strong organizational skills and an analytical mind to manage the day-to-day operations of a typical law library; librarians also need tactfulness and the ability to maintain a calm demeanor in high-pressure circumstances. Other important traits include being a team player, having a customer-service-oriented personality, the ability to multitask, and a willingness to continue to learn throughout their careers.