Law Librarianship FAQ
General Law MLIS questions
Q: How many students are in the Law Librarianship program?
A: The number of students in the Law Librarianship program is typically 5. The law librarianship students join the general MLIS students for the MLIS core curriculum courses and join UW law students in the legal research course.
Q: How long does it take to complete the law librarianship program at the UW?
A: The program takes approximately 10 months. It begins in the third week of September with orientation, and runs for three academic quarters, followed by an abbreviated intensive summer quarter. The summer quarter includes the final class, Law Library Administration, and a three-week directed fieldwork at a law library or other legal information organization, often outside the Seattle area or online.
Q: What are the core competencies I will learn through this program?
A: Through the coursework and the fellowship component of the Law Librarianship program, you will gain a combination of general library and information science as well as law-specific competencies. The core curriculum will introduce you to the principal theories in the field of library and information science. Subject competencies to be gained include, an in-depth understanding of the legal system, law-specific research skills, web design, providing instruction, and introductory data science. See the competencies of law librarianship published by AALL.
Q: This one-year program is shorter than the regular MLIS program. Will I be at a disadvantage as far as basic library skills and competencies are concerned if I decide to pursue a non-law related library career?
A: No. You will learn all required skills and competencies in one year — but it is a very full year! At the end of the program, you will earn the same MLIS degree as students in the 63-credit program and will be qualified for any career that requires an MLIS degree.
Q: How many schools have Law MLIS programs?
A: Most MLIS programs offer at least a legal research or law library administration class. A few schools — for example, University of Arizona, Catholic University of America, Pratt Institute in New York City, St. John’s University, University of Denver, University of Texas, and the University of North Texas — offer two or more courses in law librarianship. For a full list of schools that offer law librarianship courses, see the list of ALA-Accredited Graduate Programs in Library Science with Law Library Classes or Joint MLS/JD Classes.
Only the University of Washington offers a full range of dedicated credit hours of classes that are specialized in law librarianship subjects and can be completed in one calendar year. These courses, in conjunction with the fellowship at the UW Gallagher Law Library, make this program unique. The opportunity to work in a law library while earning the MLIS enhances the student experience, making our students highly sought after in the job market after graduation.
Q: Do entrants to this program need to have prior library experience? What other types of skills or experience do you look for in applicants to the program?
A: Entrants into the program often have very little prior library experience. Although applicants who have library experience are always welcome, it is not a requirement. For many students, the intern program offers the opportunity to obtain law library experience while completing the MLIS coursework. We believe it is important for students to experience working in law libraries so they will be well-informed about the profession and better trained for their first professional law library jobs.
Q: I took legal research and writing in law school, and I’ve been a practicing attorney. Why aren’t my legal research skills considered sufficient?
A: Law librarians should be highly skilled in legal research and must know more than law students or attorneys. As a law librarian, you will be teaching others to do legal research, so you must be knowledgeable about current legal research methods and tools.
The Job Market
Q: What is the job market for law librarians, particularly in academic libraries?
A: There are jobs throughout the country in academic law libraries, law firm libraries, government law libraries, court law libraries, university libraries, and legal technology companies. Placement of UW graduates has been at or near 100 percent within three months of graduation for every recent year. Please note that graduates who plan to live and work in the Seattle area will find the job market for law librarianship jobs very competitive. Most law librarian jobs are posted on the AALL website.
Q: What are the opportunities for teaching?
A: Most academic law library jobs have some teaching component, either through participation in the first-year research and writing courses or through advanced, upper-division courses. In addition, there are many spontaneous teaching opportunities that arise while working with faculty, students and the public. Many jobs in law firms and government law libraries also have a significant teaching and training component.
The UW Law Librarianship program is the only program that includes an instructional strategies for legal information course to teach students effective instruction techniques in different modalities — online, in-person, synchronous, and asynchronous — and apply those techniques teaching a legal research course in a practicum.
Q: How much can I expect to earn as a law librarian?
A: Salary depends heavily on the area of the country where you are employed, the type of library where you work, and your job title. The AALL Biennial Salary Survey, published by the American Association of Law Libraries, has the most current information about salaries for law librarians.
The Law Degree and Law Librarianship
Q: If I already have a law degree, do I need an MLIS degree to become a law librarian?
A: Most law librarian positions require the MLIS degree, so typically a JD degree alone is not enough to secure law librarian jobs. Law school administrators typically require that the director and associate director of an academic law library hold JD and MLIS degrees. Many academic institutions also require that their legal reference librarians hold both degrees.
Admission and Fees
Q: How much is tuition?
A: Students in the Law Librarianship program, regardless of residency or citizenship, pay the same tuition rates. View more information on tuition.
Q: Does the University of Washington have scholarships for Law Librarianship students?
A: Yes! There are several dedicated scholarships and funds specifically for law librarianship students. Several professional law library organizations, such as the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), offer scholarships to new students as well.