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Meet New Law Library Director and Trivia Buff Ken Hirsh

Attorney, educator, and innovator Kenneth J. Hirsh, formerly of Duke University School of Law, has been appointed Director of the Law Library and Information Technology and Clinical Professor of Law at the College of Law. With this appointment, effective February 1, Hirsh assumed the major responsibility for developing a strong, service-oriented library and technology team at the law school’s Robert S. Marx Law Library and will play a key role in the development of the College’s plans for the law library of the future.

“I have served on the Board of Directors of the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) with Ken for the past four years and am thrilled that we were able to attract a person with his background, experience, talent, and leadership ability to take the helm of our library,” said Associate Dean of Faculty and Charles Hartsock Professor of Law Paul Caron. His resume and experience speak to his strong background as a law school information technology director and strategist.

Grand Ideas About Justice

A native of Hialeah, Florida near Miami, Hirsh received his AB from the University of Miami and his JD from the University of Florida. Upon graduation from law school, his goal was to practice law. “I had grand ideas of seeking justice,” he explained “especially in the political area.” His first job with the United States Social Security Administration, however, didn’t involve legal work. He went on to work with the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife in Washington, D.C. where he “made law” in the Code of Federal Regulations with 50 CFR 17.100, a manatee protection regulation setting up manatee sanctuaries in Florida waterways.

After a few years he returned to his home state, eventually opening his own practice. Meanwhile, he began to teach courses at local colleges, such as Daytona Beach Community College and Florida Institute of Technology. Several years later Hirsh returned to school at Florida State University, having decided to become a law librarian.” I enjoyed that schooling much more than law school,” he laughed. Hirsh graduated with a MS in Library and Information Studies.

Life as a Law Librarian

Hirsh next joined the law library at Duke University School of Law, where he worked in various capacities for almost 20 years. He served as Reference Librarian (1989-1994), Manager of Computing Services (1993-2001), and Director of Computing Services (2001-2008). He also served as a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke since 1989, teaching Legal Research and a course in Technology in the Practice of Law. 

His professional success has been extensive, including proposing and developing the Computing Services Department at Duke’s law school; creating the technical infrastructure for the law school’s website; developing and co-teaching legal research courses; and using his legal education and practice background to understand the needs of the legal community to develop “forward thinking” strategies and programs.

In addition to his extensive professional experience, Hirsh is a nationally prominent leader in two of the foremost organizations in his field: the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) and CALI. He served as president of the AALL’s Southeastern Chapter and currently serves as secretary of CALI and a member of its Board of Directors. CALI honored him with its Excellence in Service Award in 2000; the AALL also honored him for distinguished service in 2004. In fact, the AALL named its distinguished service award in the area of computing services for him.

So, how did he come to the College of Law? “(Associate Dean) Paul Caron approached me at a CALI board meeting and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in applying for a position at UC,” he explained. In the meantime, Duke administration was restructuring the management of the law library. This proved to be fortuitous. Hirsh found that perhaps it was the perfect time to make a move. “There are only 200 ABA accredited law schools in the country and anywhere from one to four have an opening at the director level at a time.” Following a rigorous interview and screening process, Hirsh was offered the job and became a part of the UC Law team.

Making an Impact at the Marx Library

Hirsh’s goals for the law library are broad and progressive. He enjoys the one-on-one opportunities at UC Law where the student body is currently at 369.  One of his first steps will be to increase the emphasis on customer service in the library. Plans are also to develop a strategic plan for the library and establish the library’s presence on Facebook, the social networking site wildly popular with law students. He is also interested in introducing a course called Introduction to Law Office Technology. The course highlights the pragmatic and ethical considerations of using legal technology in advertising, billing, electronic communications, and more.

The Personal Side of Hirsh

Hirsh met his wife during his first year of law school. Today, they are the parents of three children. Law students were excited to find out that his secret passion is karaoke. The AALL meets every summer and Hirsh leads a karaoke outing for the group!  Not only that, Hirsh is a trivia buff. His life-long dream has been to be a contestant on the Jeopardy! gameshow.   Three years ago in Florida he took the online test and was invited to audition. Although he didn’t make the cut, he assures all he will try again.

To reach Ken Hirsh, email him at ken.hirsh@uc.edu.