Lindsay Steussy, research and instructional services librarian, has been at Kline Law’s Legal Research Center (LRC) for nearly 10 years. Steussy joined the LRC in June 2011 shortly after graduating from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was a law library fellow and worked in the reference department. She teaches courses on Advanced Legal Research, Tax Law Legal Research, and International and Foreign Law Legal Research.
Steussy answered a few questions about her research interests, her work in the LRC and her top research tips.
What’s your approach in working with and supporting students?
I like to think of myself as a provider of methods and skills rather than a provider of answers. Certainly I want to help students find the answers to their research questions, but I also want to teach them how to do it themselves. I also want to show students that once you understand how to do research, your methods will be the same regardless of the tools (such as Lexis or Westlaw) that you are using.
What’s your area of expertise or a subject matter you particularly enjoy researching?
My background is in history and the social sciences, so I particularly enjoy researching those, as they have a lot of overlap with legal studies. My main area of expertise in legal research is tax law, and I have also become more knowledgeable about international law in the last several years.
What’s one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a law student/attorney?
I wish I had learned more about how litigation actually functions in practice. Even if you aren’t going into an area that focuses on litigation, I think it is helpful to understand the practical procedures and steps involved.
What are the top four research tips you’d give students?
- Figure out what you want your end product to look like before you start your research. You will want to focus on different resources and strategies depending on who you are writing for or presenting to. If you don’t know, ask the person who assigned you the project!
- Most of the time, you’ll want to start with a secondary source (a practice guide, a treatise, an ALR, etc.). Finding a good secondary source will help you focus your research, and one that’s particularly on-point may even do most of your work for you.
- Learning how to search and how to focus your research is more important than learning the ins and outs of any particular tool such as Westlaw or Lexis. First of all, their interfaces change constantly, and second, behind the interface they all tend to work the same.
- The best secret librarian trick is to use the work of other librarians. Google your topic and library guide and you’ll find multiple guides written by librarians on how to do research in the area you’re interested in.
What would you want the Kline Law community to know about your outside interests?
I spend most of my free time either sewing (costumes for LARP, mostly), playing video games, or watching something with my partner. The quarantine has also added birdwatching and modern calligraphy to my list of hobbies. I have the cutest dog ever (a Swedish Vallhund named Freya) as well as two cats (Ariel and Puck).