“Law librarians have a long tradition of providing instruction in
law schools,” explains Pat. “This tradition encompasses biblio-
graphic instruction, information literacy instruction, and infor-
mal instruction that occurs regularly at the reference desk. Many
library directors and law librarians teach law school courses pri-
marily in legal research skills. These courses consist both of
stand-alone research courses and those that integrate research
with writing instruction.”
Such courses, she says, are offered in recognition of the need
for more intensive legal research instruction throughout law
school and the growing emphasis on skills training driven by the
curricular reform movement. According to Pat, in 83 of the 205
ABA-approved law schools, legal research and writing (LRW)
classes are taught in combination by LRW faculty and librarians.
The increasing number of law librarians who hold J.D. degrees
has helped open the door to such opportunities. Pat earned her
law degree from Western New England in 2001. She also holds an
M.S.L.I.S. from the Pratt Institute, an M.A. from George Washington University, and a B.A. from University of Massachusetts.
She began her career focusing on her interests in the law and
library science in Washington, DC, where many private firms
employed librarians and corporate and government librarian
positions were plentiful. When she moved to western Massachusetts in 1995, Pat found a different landscape and focused her
career in academia, joining the staff at the School of Law Library.
Her first foray into teaching was at Bay Path University, where
she taught for seven years in the paralegal program. “I enjoyed
working with the nontraditional students in the Saturday program
and also taught some traditional classes,” recalls Pat. “That experi-
ence led me to teaching online at the University of Rhode Island
in the School of Library and Information Science from 2007-2012.”
When Pat became the associate dean at the School of Law
in 2011, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Beth Cohen invited
her to teach. Since then, she has taught Advanced Research,
Advanced Lawyering Skills, and Lawyering Skills, a course taught
by Beth that had been Pat’s favorite as a JD student.
Last year, she and Beth joined forces to bring legal education
to the masses. They developed a program called Mini-Law School,
focusing on areas of interest to the public. Now offering its third
installment this April/May, the program has been a resounding
success (Read more on page 34).
Pat is also active in scholarship in a wide variety of topics.
Since 2002, she has been writing and revising the chapter on
“Legal Citation Form” in the treatise Fundamentals of Legal
Research. One of the most rewarding ways Pat has found to
apply her legal education is by volunteering as a Court
Appointed Special Advocate of Hampden County (CASA). “As
a CASA volunteer I am appointed by a judge to watch over and
advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they
don’t get lost in the legal and social service system or languish
in inappropriate group or foster homes,” says Pat.
As with all her experiences, Pat views her volunteerism as
yet another learning and teaching opportunity. “Being a CASA
gives me invaluable insight into the inner workings of the legal
system—a different and unique vantage point that also helps
inform my teaching,” she says. ◆
CLASS ACT: Pat Newcombe is Helping to
Redefine the Expanding Role of Law Librarians
Today more than ever, a critical part of legal education occurs under the guidance of law librarians. Associate Dean Pat Newcombe ’01 has taken that role even further, stepping out of the stacks and into the classroom as an associate professor of law at Western New England University.
FACULTY IN FOCUS By Mary McLean Orszulak G’ 10
Pictured (L to R): Liza Rosenof, Irene Burkhard, Kathy Layer, Donna Laviolette, Pat Newcombe,
Nicole Belbin, Karen Andros, and Renee Rastorfe. Not pictured: Artie Berns.