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Liz Reppe
This year Liz Reppe is conducting outreach to encourage lawyers to turn to the State Law Library for assistance with legal research. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: State Law Librarian Reppe has your answers

Name: Liz Reppe

Title: State Law Librarian

Education: B.S., criminal justice; University of North Dakota; J.D., Hamline University School of Law; M.L.I.S. (Masters Degree in Library Science), Dominican University

 

Minnesota State Law Librarian Liz Reppe has a message for attorneys: If you’ve been researching a legal question for 20 minutes, the law library probably can get you on the right path faster.

You won’t even have to go to the law library, housed in the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, to get help.

The full-service law library, with more than 400,000 traditional and electronic resources, can e-mail books or scan pages and e-mail them.

The law library is to reopen by appointment only beginning on Monday, June 15. It closed to the public in March because of the coronavirus pandemic but has continued offering legal information services through its website and by phone and e-mail.

This year Reppe is conducting outreach to encourage lawyers to turn to the law library for assistance with legal research.

“We have so many resources that attorneys are never going to have,” Reppe said. “Even if you’re in the biggest law firm we probably have things that your law firm doesn’t.”

The law library also serves the judiciary; state, county and local government; and other libraries.

Reppe, appointed state law librarian in 2012, previously worked in law libraries in Dakota and Washington counties.

She worked for a solo attorney after graduating from law school but didn’t like the practice. Becoming a law librarian sounded like the perfect fit when a friend from law school told her that was what he was going to do.

“I really enjoy legal research and writing when I was in law school,” Reppe said. “I never thought about being a litigator or being part of a big firm. I was just really interested in learning the law.”

 

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me anything about the State Law Library. I’m also always happy to compare notes about craft breweries.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: My dad was a lawyer and I guess I just always knew I would go to law school.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: A little light reading — “Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family,” “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, and “White Fragility.”

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: I drive from Northfield to St. Paul to work. It’s got to be slow drivers in the left lane.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being a law librarian?

A: Constantly learning new things and finding that nugget of information that the researcher needs.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The stress of facing other people’s crises on a regular basis.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: Travel. I really miss being able to travel right now.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: My hometown is Bismarck, but I live in Northfield now. Anyone spending time in Northfield should walk through the Carleton arboretum. It’s a real jewel for the town.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: I admire my husband [Jonathan Reppe, solo practitioner in Northfield]. He is the most out-of-the-box thinker I know who is also a lawyer. I think it’s fairly unusual for lawyers to be creative and I am regularly amazed at some of the solutions he comes up with.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: I don’t practice law, but I know from regularly talking with the general public that most people assume attorneys know everything about every kind of law.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the legal profession in popular culture?

A: I’d have to pick two: “Anatomy of a Murder,” for its generally realistic depiction of being a small-town solo practitioner and “My Cousin Vinny,” for its realistic depiction of how unprepared most of us are to walk into a courtroom right out of law school.

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