In an organization as large as CALL, members come and go and many of us sometimes wonder where our former colleagues have gone and what they are doing personally and professionally. This article is the revival of a past series featuring individuals who were Chicago law librarians at one time and who have moved on to other locations, jobs, or even careers. Suggestions for future profiles are welcome.
Laura Weidig, an active CALL member during the 1990s, recently attended the September 2015 CALL Business Meeting as a representative of Priory Solutions, the meeting sponsor. Many members enjoyed talking with Laura and wanted to know more about her professional journey. I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura and learning more about her experience as a law librarian and information professional and the factors that have influenced her career path.
Laura is originally from Michigan, although her family moved to Louisiana while she was in high school. She had an early interest in law librarianship and legal research that was sparked by her role as the high school debate team librarian. Following high school, she returned to Michigan to attend college at the University of Michigan. During college, she continued to develop her research and librarian skills while working for the Michigan Information Transfer Source (MITS), a service of the University of Michigan Library, which provided research and delivery of library materials to companies and individuals outside the University of Michigan academic community. During this time, Laura decided that she would pursue her MLIS after graduating.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Laura moved to Chicago where she worked as a librarian at the law firm of Foley & Lardner, LLP. While working full-time, she also obtained her MLIS from Dominican University by attending evening classes.
During her time in Chicago, Laura became involved in CALL, which provided Laura with opportunities to talk to other librarians with more experience and to develop informal mentorship relationships. Laura also became involved with the CALL Public Relations Committee and eventually chaired the committee.
In 1996, for personal reasons, Laura moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked at the law firm of Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy. There, Laura was given many opportunities to accept more responsibility and learn new skills. Laura took on higher management roles and served as Chief Client Information Officer and managed the competitive intelligence and conflicts and records management for the firm.
In her constant pursuit to reinvent herself and learn new skills relating to the legal information profession, Laura decided to pursue a position in legal publication sales at BNA, which later became Bloomberg BNA, where she worked for nearly eleven years. Again, in an effort to reinvent herself and learn another aspect of the legal information profession, Laura recently joined Priory Solutions, which specializes in electronic resource management, something Laura recognized as a law firm need. In her current role, Laura is able to draw upon her law firm experience and her legal publication experience to consult with law firms regarding their information management needs.
Reflecting on her twenty-plus years of experience as a law librarian and legal information specialist, Laura identified some of the biggest challenges that law firms face. The first challenge is the ability to keep up with the needs of the organization by identifying necessary resources for obtaining and managing information. The second challenge is the ability for information professionals to constantly reinvent themselves, despite the constraints of budget cuts.
When I asked Laura for her strategy for continually learning new, challenging skills throughout her career, she emphasized the importance of the many mentors she has consulted for advice. For example, when tasked with managing Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy’s conflicts and records management, despite having no prior experience, Laura sought out advice from someone at another firm who provided ongoing mentorship and guidance. When it was difficult to find mentors, such as in the then-cutting-edge field of competitive intelligence, Laura was resourceful in employing her research skills to acquire necessary information and skills and to identify potential mentors. Laura emphasized the importance of both having mentors and being a mentor to more junior members of the profession. She encourages CALL members to develop either formal or informal mentorship relationship during any stage in their career and to always think ahead to the next step they wish to pursue in their career.
Laura has recently rejoined CALL and frequently visits Chicago. She is also a member of AALL and many other regional chapters.
In her leisure time, Laura enjoys watching football, cooking, walking her dogs, and volunteering with local animal rescue organizations. She and her husband also enjoy scuba diving in the Caribbean and in Roatan, Honduras.
It was a pleasure talking with Laura, and we can expect to see her at future CALL meetings!