At the Virtual AALL Conference this year, PLI raffled off a one-year membership to MasterClass. Amy Eaton, director of library and research services at Perkins Coie LLP, was our winner. We caught up with Amy to discuss her career path, virtual work, and more.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you become a librarian?
Although I came to the profession early, it was not planned. I did know I wanted to be a librarian but I also loved art history. My plan was to get a Master’s in Art History followed by an MLS and work in a museum library. Instead we ended up in Detroit for my husband’s work and library opportunities were limited. My first job offer came from the Detroit College of Law (now part of Michigan State University). The director, Mario Ceresa, was willing to take a risk on someone with no JD and no legal background. I learned with the first year students, helping them with their exercises. It was great training and I found that I loved the work. Our ultimate goal was to return to the Seattle area and when we did, I was hired at my first law firm. I was scared to death most of the first month but learned that the work was pretty exciting and the people are great. I took a few detours during the following years but am happy to be back at a law firm.
What do you like most about your job at Perkins Coie?
The people. I work with, and am part of, a great team. The culture and respect for staff at Perkins Coie is unlike anything I have seen elsewhere.
What is a common research question you receive?
Although I occasionally chip in, my days at the reference desk are long past. Our two most common types of requests are related to document delivery and alerts.
Which PLI publication do you most frequently recommend to attorneys?
An Associate’s First Year: A Guide to Thriving at a Law Firm. We provide a link to the title in PLI Plus to all of our first year associates and keep a few print copies around also.
What part of AALL 2020 did you find most interesting and why?
I think AALL, PLLIP and AMPC did really well responding to the sudden and dramatic change in plans. The sessions I attended were well done and I had the opportunity to touch base with a few vendors. A big thank you to the vendors who continued to support AALL during the conference! I was particularly grateful to see the lower price point. I was able to “send” all my staff and hope that a virtual component will continue to be a part of the conference moving forward. This year I had the opportunity to work on several panels with people I did not know at all or did not know well. I love getting the chance to get know my colleagues who work in other types of libraries or different areas of the country. If someone asks you to be on a panel, say yes! It’s a great opportunity and we all want to hear from new faces with fresh perspectives.
What advice to you have for law librarians who are working remotely right now?
Don’t isolate yourself. In this environment it is easy to put your head down and work all day without creating or maintaining personal relationships. We all missed seeing our friends at AALL this year. Why not pick up the phone and call a few? Take a few minutes out of your day to check in on a friend or let a fellow law librarian author/panelist know that you appreciated their article or talk. Passing along a compliment is a sure fire way to improve their day and yours!