Category Archives: Interview

Meet our AALL 2019 Raffle Winner: Caren Luckie

At the AALL Annual Meeting & Conference in Washington, D.C. this year, PLI raffled off an Amazon Echo. Caren Luckie, Research Attorney at Jackson Walker was our winner. Check out our interview with Caren below!

Tell me a little about yourself. Why did you become a librarian?

I became a librarian somewhat by default.  I was looking for a job after college, and was talking to a friend of my parents who was in charge of the Shell Oil business library.  She was a Seven Sisters graduate (Wellesley) and said she would be willing and happy to hire another Seven Sisters (Mount Holyoke) graduate.  And so it began.  I spent 4 years in the Shell Oil library as a ‘clerk’, but handled basic research and reference requests.  I went on to another job as a bloodstock researcher for a thoroughbred breeding farm, and then to law school.  I didn’t think much about becoming a librarian until I was practicing law and decided that I didn’t like being first chair in a litigation practice.  I wanted to do research and the background work.  So I went to grad school at UT and got my MLIS in one year.  With a  background in research of all types, plus a law degree, I wanted to focus on research and being a law librarian was the way to go. 

What do you like most about your job at Jackson Walker?

The variety.  Much of my work is for the litigation group, but I work with all of our practice groups.  I’m a “generalist” rather than a specialist, and it never (rarely) gets dull.  Also the people – attorneys, staff, administration – are great.  This month marks my 25th anniversary with Jackson Walker, so I think it’s safe to say that I like it here.

What is a common research question you receive?

There is no common question J  I do quite a bit of public records research, both for our real estate practice and for our litigation group.  But I also get complex legal research questions.  I think my most common research project/question is checking on the status of tenants for our commercial real estate clients.

Which PLI publication do you most frequently recommend to attorneys?

That would depend on the practice group.   For our real estate group, it’s frequently Friedman on Leases.  For my First Amendment attorneys, Sack on Defamation.

What did you think of AALL 2019? Did you do any sightseeing in Washington D.C.?

I thought it was an excellent conference.  The programs were good, and it’s always great to network with old friends and meet new colleagues.  I spent 2 days before the conference sightseeing – my husband and I toured the Capital, spent time at the Spy Museum, and got to see the pandas at the National Zoo.  I also got to see the Carnegie Library building that has been turned into an Apple Store.  They share the building with the historical society, and have kept the building’s integrity – simply whitewashed the whole thing – and have the old blueprints and quite a few old photos.

Thank you Caren! And Congratulations!

PLI’s New Guide to Financial Services Mediation!

Did you know that Mediation Can Be a Powerful Tool for In-House Counsel? Check out the interview below with the editors of PLI’s new Financial Services Mediation Answer Book (2017 Edition) .



Financial Services Mediation Answer Book is available on PLI PLUS, our online research database. If you’d like to order a print copy, please email or call 877-900-5291.

Meet Our AALL 2016 Orbitz Gift Certificate Raffle Winner: Dennis Sears

Our AALL 2016 Orbitz gift card winner, Dennis Sears of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU.

Dennis Sears of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU.

At the AALL Annual Meeting & Conference in Chicago this year, PLI celebrated the global reach of Discover PLUS–which is now being accessed from all 50 states and more than 65 countries–by raffling off a $1,000 Orbitz gift card at our booth. Dennis Sears of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University won the raffle. Check out our interview with Dennis below!

Tell  me a little about yourself.  Why did you become a librarian?

I worked in the law library during my time as a student in law school.  After graduating, I clerked for a judge and then as a hearing officer for the the Salt Lake County Tax Administration.  A position came open and I was approached about joining the law library faculty.  Evidently, they liked the work I did for them while I was in law school.

What do you like most about your job at BYU Law?

Working with the students and teaching legal research.  Having clerked for a judge, I became acutely aware of how important effective, efficient, and accurate legal research is and to be effective and efficient, you have to be familiar with the secondary sources out there so that you don’t reinvent the wheel every time you get another research project.

What is the most common research question of law students?

Probably, where do I go to begin my research?  Usually, by this time, students have thrashed about on their own looking for cases and statutes (maybe successfully, but maybe unsuccessfully) but they don’t know where to go from there.

Have you used PLI publications for your own research? Which ones?

Yes, I used the trial practice materials, such as jury instructions, depositions, etc. as well as appellant materials dealing with brief writing and oral argument.  Now, I search for whatever will help students in the trial and appellant practice courses and even help professors find materials for the courses and their research.

 What did you think of AALL 2016? Did you do any sightseeing in Chicago?

I thought the annual meeting was a good experience.  The workshop I attended was outstanding.  There was good programming and a lot to learn in the exhibit hall.  I did visit the Chicago Institute of Art the afternoon that I arrived for a couple of hours.

Tell me about your best vacation ever.

My best vacation was after the annual meeting in Boston (which was also great for sightseeing historical sights) to Plymouth, Massachusetts.  I had never traveled in the northeast, but visiting Plymouth,  Plimoth Plantation, and Mayflower II and drinking in the ambiance of that area was a real treat for me and my wife.

 Where do you plan on traveling with your Orbitz gift card?

To be honest with you, I was so caught off guard by winning this gift card that my mind has been in a whirl.

Thank you, Dennis. And bon, voyage!

Meet Our AALL 2015 Orbitz Gift Card Winner: Nicole Dyszlewski


Tell me a little about yourself?  Why did you become a librarian?

I am the new Research/Access Services Librarian at Roger Williams University School of Law in beautiful Bristol, RI. I just moved to Southern New England in January from Maine in hopes of avoiding some of the snow. I became a librarian because I like working with patrons.  


What do you like most about your job as at Roger Williams University School of Law?

My patrons, of course! My second favorite thing about RWU is that we are surrounded by water on nearly every side of the campus.


What is the most common research question of law students?

I am fairly new to RWU and I don’t think I have a good sense of what the most common questions are here, yet. Surprisingly, I have not gotten a single question about the father of religious freedom, Roger Williams!  


Have you used PLI publications for your own research? Which ones?

I particularly like the Answer Book Series. It is like Yahoo Answers…but written by actual experts…


What did you think of AALL 2015? Did you do any sightseeing in Philadelphia?

The AALL Annual Meeting was great. I really enjoyed some of the presentations. As a tourist, I visited Eastern State Penitentiary (at and The Franklin Fountain ( at


Tell me about your best vacation ever.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.


Where do you plan on traveling with your Orbitz gift card?

I don’t know. I’m hoping somewhere relaxing!


Interview with our AALL 2013 Kayak & Paddle Sweepstakes Winner: Ruck DeMinico

On Monday July 15th 2013 at the 106th American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting & Conference, Practising Law Institute announced its lucky sweepstakes winner, Ruck DeMinico of Merlin Law Group.

Tell us a little about yourself, your work, and what a typical day looks like for you:

I started off my legal career as a trial attorney and litigated for the first dozen years, trying a couple hundred jury trials. I had always been interested in librarianship and decided to go back to get my degree and work at what I really enjoyed. I don’t know that there is a typical day – unless controlled chaos can be considered typical. Being a sole librarian for a firm with offices on both coasts and in seven states, research questions can come in on any jurisdiction and, as in any private firm, they are all considered rush/priority by the sender and can come at any time of the day or night. I also handle the traditional library functions, vendor relations, DMS/KM, edit and maintain the firm blogs, create handout materials and PowerPoints for presentations by firm attorneys at seminars, and along with the Managing Attorney and COO am a member of the firm’s Management team.

Have you kayaked before? Where will you take your Discover PLUS branded Kayak:

I have, in the Miami/Everglades area. I love canoeing and spend as much free time as I can on the rivers here in Florida. I’m looking forward to exploring the mangroves around Tampa Bay with the kayak and may take fishing back up now that I can maneuver in the mangroves.

What do you like most about your job as Knowledge Manager of Merlin Law Group:

The constant change in what I’m doing. Every day is different, with new challenges.

As an attorney and law librarian, what do you think are the most challenging issues/trends shaping the legal industry today?:

I would say ESI/e-discovery, especially for smaller cases that may still have large amounts of electronic data to provide – where the use of vendors may be cost prohibitive.

Are you familiar with Discover PLUS, PLI’s eBook library?  Did you receive a demo at PLI’s booth at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Conference in Seattle:

I did see the demo at AALL.  I like the ‘all-inclusive’ business model, rather than having to choose which individual books to purchase or subscribe to.


Discover PLUS provides complete online access to PLI’s Course Handbooks, Treatises, Answer Books, Legal Forms and Program Transcripts.

Interview with our 2011 Caption the Cartoon Contest Winner: Sherry VonBehren from Drake University Law Library

Last year, PLI asked you to caption a cartoon featuring a PLI treatise and be entered to win an iPad.  Ms. Sherry VonBehren of Drake University Law Library was our winner (click here to see her caption) and below, Sherry answers some questions about libraries, librarians, and how technology is changing our field.


Tell us a little about yourself:

I’ve been working at the Drake LawSchool Library since August of 1985. When I started, my daughters were nine and twelve years old (almost). Now the older daughter works in the financial industry and has a Masters degree from Drake while the other is a registered nurse.

I’ve done many jobs at the Law Library, from labeling new books, filing cards into the obsolete card catalog, and making thousands of pages of photocopies of court cases to using a computer program to interlibrary loan items around the country, providing legal material from our electronic databases, and preparing library displays on such varied topics as the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, visits from Chief Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and U.S. soldiers getting their wrongful WWII era convictions overturned just a few years ago.

What is a typical day like for you? :

First, I process the library’sinterlibrary loan and document delivery requests. I may need to put out anothercollection of “new books” or add recent faculty publications or student publications and awards to the large display cases.

I’m always developing new displays for the law library. The displays draw attention to library resources, give information on a law school subject, give tips on how to manage final exams stress, highlight law school lectures by visiting legal experts, law school symposiums, other law school activities, etc.

Why did you choose this career? :

I’ve loved libraries since I was achild. I had enjoyed my volunteer work at a public library and I liked the idea of doing the detailed work that keeps a library functioning. I had no idea of learning about legal resources when I started at the Law Library, it happened as my responsibilities changed over the years.

How do you feel technology has changed the field of law and/or librarianship? :

Technology has certainly changed how legal professionals do their research. Having legal resources available electronically has changed how fast legal sources can be found and has added tremendously to the number and variety of resources we can now access. Libraries must keep up with ever changing methods of finding answers to legal questions.

Helping law students, law faculty, attorneys and members of the public use electronic legal sources requires the skill to use electronic databases and especially the ability to advise patrons on how to conduct efficient, cost effective, and successful legal research.

What do you like most about your job? :

Most of all, I like being able to help people. I feel that providing the legal materials they need is an important job.

I also like developing informational displays. I’m very fortunate that I have a good amount of freedom to be creative and develop the displays in the manner I think will work to further the mission of the Law Library and the entire Law School.

How do you think the field of librarianship is changing? How is it staying the same? :

As ways of accessing legal materials have changed due to our use of computers, so have the options on how librarians must be able to connect with library users and the research skills they must learn. Those research skills must also be continually updated.

Librarianship is a helping profession. Most library workers are very service oriented. Our sincere desire to help people has stayed the same.

Do you use your iPad for anything work related, if so, for what? :

I have not used the iPad at work yet, but other people at the law school do use iPads at work and love them. Several people were quite excited about my winning the iPad.

Thank you again for such a wonderful gift. I was certainly surprised and excited to get it as well as very appreciative.

Wish you’d won an iPad?  You’re in luck! We’ll be having another caption the cartoon contest this year so stay tuned for the details on how to submit your caption via the website or stop by our booth at SLA (# 153) or AALL (# 323)!

Interview with a Law Librarian: Karen Grushka

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Toronto, but moved after high school to attend college and graduate school in the Midwest.  After finishing law school at Michigan State University, I moved to New York City, where I decided to pursue a degree in library and information science and St. John’s University.  I now work as a reference assistant at New York Law School’s Mendik Library, where I handle interlibrary loan requests for faculty, staff and students.

Why did you decide to become a librarian?

I really loved the rigors of law school, but I knew that upon graduation, I wanted to pursue a more non-traditional legal career.  Prior to law school, I had completed a master’s degree in French studies, where I spent time working and doing research in France.  I grew to love doing the research, engaging people in conversation, asking questions, reading and writing.  So I was lucky that during my legal studies, I had the opportunity to work in the law library as a research assistant for the librarians and faculty.

After graduation, I moved to New York City, where I spent a year doing various law-related jobs, until I realized that library school might provide a place where I could combine both my legal background and my love of research.  

What is a typical day for an ILL librarian?

Most of my day is spent responding to and organizing internal and external requests for items, processing incoming and outgoing mail, and sometimes, searching for hard-to-find materials.  I also spend some time assisting at the reference desk.

How do you feel technology has changed the field of librarianship?

In the context of interlibrary loan and reference work, technology has made the exchange of information almost instantaneous.  Requesting items from other libraries, or responding to outside requests is extremely fast and efficient.  It’s amazing how quickly a request for materials can be placed and filled. For items like journal articles in PDF format, the time between ordering and receiving the resource can take just a few minutes.

You’ve had some fascinating internships at different government offices – which one was the most rewarding and why?

During law school, I interned at both a Michigan circuit court, as well as at the Attorney General’s office in the Community Health department. Both were fascinating, since I had the chance to gain perspective on different aspects of the legal process.

At the circuit court, I responded to pro se complaints and observed criminal and civil trials in process.  At the AG’s department, I researched various issues pertaining to nursing homes and food stamp programs in Michigan.  Both offered the opportunity to strengthen my research skills and to gain a better understanding of state law.

What do you like most about your career?

I like that I’m working with a group of people who love what they’re doing, who are really engaged in their work, and who are fascinated by the challenges of research of problem-solving. I also love working in an academic environment, since there is a pulse among students that fills the library with a dynamic energy.

You have your JD as well as your MLS.  Do you feel your education adequately prepared you to enter the field?

I think that both degrees have contributed to my ability to work in the field, but like most professions, I believe that practical, working experience is the only way to truly grasp the intricacies of the field.  There’s always more to learn, and since technology changes so quickly, it’s important to be practicing in order to keep a handle on emergent information sources and research strategies.

Interview with a Non-Traditional Librarian: Laura Falacienski

Laura Falacienski started her career as a librarian and took a very interesting path into special events planning at the very prestigious Brookings Institution. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I have been the Special Events Manager in the Development Department of the Brookings Institution since July 2004. For the past 10 years I have also worked as a Sunday Reference Librarian at the Alexandria Beatley Library.

My previous job was at the National Press Club Library. I was hired as a Research Librarian in May 1998 and I moved into the Business and Events Manager position in March 1999 when a colleague left.  I planned book events such as the annual National Press Club Book Fair with 70 authors, single author book events, wine dinners with cookbook authors, and technology events. I also managed the financial aspects of the library such as billing, classroom rental, library classes, etc. My first job out of college was at the business newspaper, Crain’s Cleveland Business.  I was the Editorial Researcher for 4 years. I compiled the ranking lists of various industries, such as Accounting Firms, Public Companies and Private Companies. I also compiled the Going Places, Datebook, and Tax Liens columns.

Why did you decide to attend library school? 

I began working at libraries in high school. First as a page during high school and then as a desk clerk at the Parma Regional Library Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library system during college. Once I began working at Crain’s I realized that I enjoyed the research aspect of my job and I found that library school was the next logical step in my career path. I attended Kent State Library School while working full-time at Crain’s. After graduating in December 1997 I applied for the National Press Club job and moved to Washington, DC in May 1998.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do as a Special Events Manager at the Brookings Institution?  What is a typical day like for you?

My current job as Special Events Manager at the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan think tank, has given me the opportunity to organize and implement a wide variety of events. I have planned breakfasts, lunches, receptions, and dinners in New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. These events are a benefit for our Brookings Council of donors and are a means for introducing our work to selected prospects and guests. The duties are many and varied in event planning and I am performing all of these duties for a number of events simultaneously.

I coordinate logistics for our two day Board of Trustees meetings, field trips, and our formal Board Dinner, which occurs three times a year. Our May Board meeting is also our annual International Advisory Council (IAC) meeting. We have concurrent sessions with our Trustees and our IAC members and then combined events. The IAC membership is composed of 26 business leaders from around the world. The Washington, DC Board meetings over the past six years have included field trips to the Pentagon, the State Department, the Supreme Court, and the Capitol. We have hosted our formal Board dinners at the Newseum, National Museum of American History, Union Station, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Reagan Building, the Embassy of Italy, and for four years at the State Department Diplomatic Reception rooms.

I was able to use my knowledge and techniques of working on Board meetings in DC and apply it to taking our Board meetings outside of the Beltway. In the past few years we have hosted Board meetings in Las Vegas, Charleston, SC, and Miami. Our Las Vegas meeting included a welcome reception, a Board meeting, various committee meetings, roundtables, lunch and a presentation at Spago at Caesars Palace, a panel discussion at UNLV, viewing of the Democratic Presidential Candidate debate at the Cox Pavilion at UNLV, and dinner and a show at the Mirage. The Charleston, SC meeting included a welcome reception at our Chairman’s home, a Board meeting, various panel presentations including one with Governor Sanford, committee meetings, lunch with the Mayor Riley, a formal Board dinner at the Old Exchange, and an informal oyster roast. Our Miami Board meeting included a Board meeting, committee meetings, lunch with Mayor Diaz, dinner with the President of Costa Rica, and a lunch with the President of the University of Miami, Donna Shalala.

My work experience has been enhanced by my coursework toward my certificate in Meeting, Event & Exhibition Management from Northern Virginia Community College.  I also completed a number of courses through the Event Management Certificate Program at George Washington University. I obtained the industry standard, Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in March 2009 and took a CMP Prep Course to further my knowledge and mastery of event practices and operating principles. With this knowledge I am the technical authority of events at Brookings and I am often called upon to assist other event planners in other departments.

Your career took you to a very interesting place, and with a very interesting job.  While an MLS is not a prerequisite for that position, how has that degree helped you in your current role? 

Having a library degree has proved helpful in all of my jobs. I know which databases to use to research prominent speakers and I know where to look when I am researching vendors and venues for events. 

Can you speak about some of your more memorable events…and some of the exciting people you get to meet? 

At Brookings we have featured many VIPs as speakers during our Board meetings including: Sen. John McCain, Sen. Joe Lieberman; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson; former Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to name a few. 

My six years at the National Press Club provided me with a vast array of special event experiences from single author book events, book raps/wine dinners, Book Fairs with over 70 authors, to a full scale trade show. I directed the National Press Club Author Rap series and the Cyber Cocktail series of technology forums and exhibitions.  I coordinated events with such VIPs as Norman Mailer, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor, J.K. Rowling, David McCullough, Kirk Douglas, Gore Vidal, Senator Arlen Specter, Senator Bill Frist, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Mario Cuomo, and John Kenneth Galbraith. 

What do you like most about your job? 

I enjoy travelling to New York and other cities to staff events. Another aspect of the job that I enjoy is meeting and interacting with our Trustees and donors. They are prominent members of the business community and it is interesting to read about them in the newspaper or Vanity Fair and then interact with them at events.

Interview with a future librarian: Karen Carter

Karen Carter is an MLIS student at Rutgers University. For the past eight years she worked for the American Psychological Association (APA) doing bibliographic productions and quality assurance for the PsycINFO database. Before that she worked as a professional researcher for a variety of organizations including a crime database, a suicide prevention association, a law firm, and the Department of Education.

Why did you decide to become a librarian? 
I’ve always been interested in librarianship, having actually been accepted to this LIS program the first time 15 years ago. My passion has always been research and librarianship seemed like a terrific field for someone with a constant thirst for knowledge. I took a detour back then and pursued another field, but when I came to APA, I found myself re-exposed to many areas of librarianship – user services, bibliographic production, database and systems management and more — and I actually think that all of that additional exposure served to solidify a foundation for entry into the field at this time. Now, I can combine my earlier passion for research and information with all of the new professional knowledge I have, and I actually think this is an amazing time to enter the field.


What area of librarianship are you most interested in? 
I am most interested in digital libraries and digital archives. Over the last few years I’ve really fallen in love with technology and I think that digital preservation of our resources is one of the most important initiatives we have right now. Also, creating the opportunity for more people to access more information via digital collections is so critical, and I like the idea of being involved with that. I’ve recently started volunteering on a public library digitization project, focusing on the state’s history, and I really enjoy learning the nuts and bolts of what goes in to creating a digital archive.


How do you feel technology has changed the field of librarianship?
Well, certainly technology has been responsible for an exponential growth in access to information. Anyone can get just about anything at the fingertips now, so librarians have to adjust to having changed roles in the lives of users, perhaps changing from the go-to person for information to being a teacher/guide to help people both navigate information sources and use current tools to maximize their information-seeking. This requires librarians to be skilled in technical areas they may not have had to have been before.


How do you think the field of librarianship is changing? How is it staying the same?
Since I’m new to the field, my observations are certainly basic, but it seems that the field is becoming more driven by user needs and preferences that are influenced by technology shifts. And there is greater focus on delivery of services and design of systems that meet those needs. Perhaps there is also more focus on community and collaborative environments, with all of the social media influence on the way we communicate. I would think that the way that it stays the same is that it remains a field focused on service. Whether that service is providing tangible resources to a local community in a bricks-and-mortar location or providing access to information in a virtual environment for scholars scattered across the globe, the profession always remains vital to meeting our knowledge needs in constantly changing times.


What would your dream job be?
My approach to starting my program has been that I’m going to get as much exposure to as many areas as possible to actually discover where my skills are, and then come up with a dream job. But I do dream sometimes of working in a large repository like the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which has such a diverse and interesting set of collections. Honestly, my dream job is anywhere that provides intellectual stimulation on a daily basis and gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Recently, I heard someone suggest that you should recall what you used to answer as a child when someone asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, and if you end up going into that field, you’ll probably be happy. Until I heard this, I’d forgotten that sure enough, starting from 7 years old, I used to say I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up. I may have taken a circuitous route to get here,, but when I reflect on that today, I think…”well, how about that?” It feels like I’ve made the right choice.

Interview with Legal Reference Librarian: Sheila Doherty

 Sheila Doherty currently works as a Reference Librarian at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.

What made you decide to specialize in legal librarianship?

I used to be a Social Studies teacher, so I taught about the development of governments throughout the world. While I left that profession after three years, I have always enjoyed learning. I thought working in a law firm would be interesting, so I spent one year at the Palmer School (Long Island University) alternating between their four campuses and one legal class at Queens college to be sure and get the most out of my education. As a reference librarian at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, I do legal and corporate research. I’m glad to say that it is better than I ever imagined.

How do you feel technology has changed the role of the library in your law firm?

Quite honestly, the thought of working with books alone kept me away from librarianship. It is something that just did not appeal to me. With the advent of internet search engines, I learned to love finding facts quickly. As I honed this skill, the field of librarianship became an option that was not there in the past. As a newer librarian, I only hear about the past from more experienced librarians. To sum up their thoughts in a sentence, it was much slower paced. With the incredible advances in technology, there is a “I need this NOW” attitude that did not exist in the past.

What do you like most about your career?

I love always learning. As a reference librarian, I do not have a niche, and this means there is always a new question or challenge to make the day more interesting.

Do you still use books or do you find you do most of your research online? Which books? Which online resources?

It really depends on the question. If people need an overview, print treatises are still best to flip through. If the question is very specific and would require many resources to answer it, online is best.

Do you still use the “reference interview”? Do you find most of your questions come in via email, phone, person?

In a way, yes. Most questions come in e-mail form, and these can get a follow-up e-mail or phone call to ask for more details. However, if a person calls the library, we can perform the reference interview right then. This is much better, especially for newer attorneys, as it allows us to use our experience to shape their questions.

Can you discuss a particularly challenging reference question?

Well, it has been five years, and there have been countless challenging questions. I would have to say that the challenge has very simple origins. The longer I do this, the easier it seems to become. Of course, there are still plenty of questions that require a great deal of thought and effort, but the process by which you answer them becomes easier. Going back to your previous question, I absolutely still use the reference interview. In fact, the more experience I get, the better that interview becomes. Practice really does make perfect!