A BYU law librarian received the Daniel L. Wade Foreign, Comparative and International Law Special Interest Section Outstanding Service Award at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries this past July.
Dennis S. Sears, associate director for Legal Research and Reference at Howard W. Hunter Law Library, has been working at BYU for 24 years and was nominated for the award for his service on various FCIL-SIS committees, including co-chairing the education committee for 14 years and his service as secretary/treasurer (2005–2007), vice chair/chair-elect (2007–2008) and chair (2008–2009).
The award was named after Daniel L. Wade, the Foreign and International Law Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale Law School. Wade has long been seen as the expert of foreign, comparative and international legal research, reference and teaching.
Sears, who also teaches some classes dealing with legal research at the law school, mentioned that as being one of his favorite parts of his job. “Being able to teach students to go out and hit the ground running and be able to survive in the real world is really important to me.”
Research actually takes up the majority of a career in law, something that most people don’t realize.
“Research and writing is what we do. We probably spend 100 hours of research for every hour spent in court,” Sears said. He also said preparing and teaching his law students how to research is vital because when they go out and apply for jobs, one of the first questions they’ll be asked is whether or not they know how to research.
Emily Anderson, a BYU junior who is currently interning as a paralegal in Washinton D.C., agreed with Sears’ research comments.
“Research is what I do everyday; the attorneys research for most of their time as well,” Anderson said. “Even if a large case were to go to trial, there would be months and potentially years of preparation preceding it — all made up of research and writing. It is essential for law students to have high reading and comprehension rates, analytical skills and concise writing abilities.”
Katherine Brandt, a first-year law student at BYU, also agreed that research is huge in law.
“I’ve only been in law school for a month and have already written two research-based memos,” Brandt said. “The research skills that the professors teach us in our first year are important because they prepare us for our summer externships, they are necessary for admittance to the second-year moot court team and law journals, and they ultimately prepare us to pass the bar and practice law competently.”
In his 24 years of work at BYU law school, Sears has dedicated himself to improving the researching opportunities and education available to students. He has networked with other schools and librarians to improve BYU’s resources, brought in newer and better materials, and increased the amount of research help and opportunites for BYU students pursuing a career in law.
The award given to Dennis Sears this past summer was in reward of a job well done, and going above and beyond what is expected of a librarian.