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2043.pKatherine K. Coolidge: Law Librarian for Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP, Springfield and Boston, MA; Treasurer of the Special Libraries Association Legal Divisiondf

2043.pKatherine K. Coolidge: Law Librarian for Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP, Springfield and Boston, MA; Treasurer of the Special Libraries Association Legal Divisiondf

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Katherine K. Coolidge is a law librarian for Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP, Springfield and Boston, MA.

Katherine K. Coolidge is a law librarian for Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP, Springfield and Boston, MA.

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Published by: RogerCroft on Feb 07, 2013
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09/17/2013

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LAWCROSSING
THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH
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Katherine K. Coolidge: Law Librarian for Bulkley,Richardson and Gelinas, LLP, Springfield and Boston,MA; Treasurer of the Special Libraries AssociationLegal Division
[By Charisse Dengler]Katherine K. Coolidge—a lawyer turned law librarian—said she is much happier in her new profession. Working as a solofor Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, she performs all aspects of the law library management, including legal reference,collection development, budget preparation, contract negotiation for print and online resources, cataloging, and serialcirculation.history of the administration.”
“If you think of it as running a business withina business—that’s what I do,” she said.Coolidge first considered changingfields after she found herself becomingdisenchanted with the practice of law.After considering some different graduateprograms, she settled on a program offeredthrough Simmons College’s GraduateSchool of Library and Information Scienceon the campus of Mount Holyoke Collegein South Hadley, MA. The program was agood fit for her because it allowed her topursue her new career while working on hermaster’s degree.“It seemed like a really good combinationfor me, where I could continue to use myeducation and experience in the law and takeit down a different road,” she said.Coolidge has been a law librarian for three-and-a-half years now. She said she had someinitial worries about making the change fromlawyer to law librarian, but the enthusiasmand pride with which she talks about her newprofession are evidence of the fact that shemade the right decision. “I thought when I went to library school thatI would probably become an academic lawlibrarian. I was concerned that if I workedin a firm, I would be viewed as someonewho failed at practicing law. But that hasn’tbeen my experience in this firm,” shesaid. “It’s just so much fun to be workingwith incredibly smart people and to beappreciated for what I do.”“When you’re a lawyer, your clientappreciates what you do; but you’re alwaysin a litigious mode. Every day, you’re arguingwith somebody,” she said. “This is just somuch more fun because I’m treated very wellhere and people respect my education andmy ability. I am learning a lot about variousareas of law that I had never practiced inbecause I’m asked to do research in thoseareas. It’s really very pleasurable for me.”Although Coolidge appreciates thedifferences between law librarians andlawyers, she also said that the skills shelearned as an attorney have helped her in hernew profession.“I have the work ethic of a lawyer, so I don’tmind if something goes beyond five or ifI’m having lunch at my desk and somebodyneeds help,” she said. “I don’t really considerthat to be my time. If I’m here, I’m availableto help people. I think if you view your jobas a nine-to-five kind of thing, people willnot feel you’re part of the team. It is hardfor somebody who hasn’t practiced lawto understand that that’s the way lawyersthink and work. They’re not being rude, andthey’re not being demanding. They just wantthe work done within whatever deadlinesare imposed on them by the courts or theirclients’ needs.”She urges students studying lawlibrarianship to consider working in a lawlibrary or public courthouse library duringschool in order to better understand theintensity with which attorneys do their jobs.She also encourages students to work ontheir communication skills. She said theability to be pleasant and make people feellike their interruptions are welcome is a skillthat cannot be learned in school.“I think, more than anything, you need tobe able to get along with people and beflexible,” she said. “You have to be ableto tolerate interruptions and be willing tochange directions and re-prioritize your workfrom moment to moment.”Another aspect of law librarianship thatCoolidge loves is the interconnectedness ofthe profession.“People in this field are so generous withtheir knowledge and their time. That’sanother difference between law librarianshipand practicing law. Being a law librarian isall about sharing information; whereas, whenyou’re a lawyer, you’re really protectinginformation and disclosing only what’snecessary,” she said. “It’s a great field.”Coolidge is currently serving as Treasurerof the Special Libraries Association LegalDivision (SLA), a position that she feels hasbeen beneficial to both her and the firm.“The nice thing about participating at thenational level is that you begin to collectcolleagues all across the country. I can’t tell

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