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Cornell law librarian receives France’s highest honor
Claire Germain awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur medal
ITHACA, N.Y.— Claire Germain, Cornell Law School’s Edward Cornell Law Librarian and Professor of Law, received the Chevalier de La Légion d’Honneur for her efforts in bridging the American and French legal cultures.
The award, which originated in 1802 under Napoleon Bonaparte and is considered France’s highest honor, recognizes outstanding achievements in military and civil life. The honor was presented to her on July 17 in Paris by Vincent Lamanda, the Cour de cassation’s first president, a title akin to chief justice in the United States, on behalf of the president of the French republic.
The occasion was the dedication at the Cour de cassation library of the Cornell Center for Documentation on American Law. Professor Germain received the award for her role in enhancing French-American relations and French knowledge of U.S. law by advocating for, assembling, and shipping the 13,000 volume collection of American case law and law journals. The collection makes use of duplicate copies in the Law School library in response to a request from the Cour de cassation for support.
“This is a very moving ceremony for me because I’m a citizen of both France and the United States and am a European at heart,” Professor Germain, after she was presented with the Chevalier de La Légion d'Honneur medal. She later said, privately, that she was especially honored because only about 23 percent of the award's past recipients have been women.
Professor Germain is an authority on legal research, technology, French law, and comparative law. She teaches courses on those subjects at the Law School and its Paris Summer Institute on International and Comparative Law. She joined the Cornell Law School faculty in 1993 after serving for many years as a law librarian and senior lecturer at Duke University Law School. She was president of the American Association of Law Libraries; chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ committee on libraries and technology; and executive board member of the International Association of Law Libraries. She was awarded a licence-ès-Lettres from the University of Paris III in 1971; a licence-en-Droit (LL.B.) from the University of Paris XII in 1974; an M.C.L from Louisiana State University School of Law in 1975; and an M.L.L. from the University of Denver in 1977.
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