The Legal Division is proud to feature Joan Ogden in its October/November Profiles in Law Librarianship feature:
A Little Bit About Joan:
Joan Ogden is Supervisor of the Chicago Office Library of McGuireWoods LLP, an AmLaw 100 law firm based in Richmond, Virginia. Joan has been with McGuireWoods since 2000. Prior to that time, she spent three years as an Information Specialist in the Health Law Division of the American Medical Association, and sixteen years working at the law firm Sidley & Austin in Chicago. Prior to working in law libraries, she worked for six years at the Newberry Library, a world-renowned research library in Chicago.
She has been active in the SLA Legal Division, the SLA Illinois Chapter, and the Chicago Association of Law Libraries, her local chapter of AALL, having written articles and served on a number of committees. Most recently, she has agreed to be the Chair of the SLA Legal Division’s Mentoring Committee for 2012-2013.
A Few Questions for Joan:
What brought you to the legal information industry?
I began my career in law librarianship in 1981. That year, I began working full time in the law library of Sidley & Austin. I also began law school at IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, attending classes at night. The early 1980’s was an exciting time to be working in the field of law. LexisNexis and Westlaw were just beginning to offer their online services to law firms. I immediately appreciated the value of doing legal research electronically, as opposed to using books exclusively for legal research.
I graduated from law school in 1985 and passed the Illinois State Bar that same year. While interviewing for positions as an attorney, I began to realize that I would be much happier if I stayed in the field of law librarianship. Since I had a great deal of experience working in law libraries, but no degree in information science, I decided to return to graduate school and get that degree. In 1990, I earned my master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Rosary College, now Dominican University, in River Forest, Illinois.
Soon after I completed my master’s degree, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to begin working as a professional law librarian with Sidley & Austin. In 1998, I decided to try something new, so I took a job as an Information Specialist in the Health Law Division of the American Medical Association. Then, in 2000, I returned to the world of large law firms when I took a job as a librarian with McGuireWoods LLP. I am still with that firm today.
Where do you see our industry in 10 years?
Honestly, I have no idea. When I think about how much the legal information field has changed just in the last few years, I find it very hard to imagine where our industry will be next year, let alone 10 years down the line. I’m sure technological advances will make accessing information easier and easier. I can only hope that publishers will catch up with the technology. I’d like to see more consistent and realistic pricing models for online resources someday.
As many law librarians, including myself, begin to retire, the legal information field will be made up of a much younger demographic. Having worked with some of these young professionals, I am confident that they will have the same enthusiasm and dedication that my generation has had over the years. They will be prepared to overcome obstacles that we cannot even begin to imagine today.
What are you doing to get Future Ready?
I think that the key to being Future Ready is to keep in touch with your colleagues and to stay on top of the latest trends influencing your profession. Of course, I try to keep current on trends affecting the legal information world and the legal profession by browsing national legal publications such as the National Law Journal and American Lawyer. I also review legal and business publications specific to my locality, such as Chicago Lawyer and Crain’s Chicago Business. As part of my job, I regularly review articles from websites such as CNET, ComputerWorld, InformationWeek, ArsTechnica, and TechDirt, which makes it easy for me to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in technology. I share articles that I think might be of interest to my co-workers and colleagues. I also attend local professional association meetings on a regular basis, to network with colleagues and make new friends.
Do you have any advice for people looking to break into the legal information industry?
Embrace change and new challenges, even if you have to go outside of your comfort zone. Stay in touch with what is going on around you. Make sure you understand how your organization works, and how your library and/or department functions within the organization. Always keep your resume up-to-date. Stay active within your professional associations, and add your achievements to your resume. Cultivate a sense of humor. Be positive, creative and enthusiastic!