Duke Law seeking applicants for leader of library, technology services

December 19, 2017Duke Law News

Duke Law School has begun a search for an innovative thinker and leader to guide the ongoing evolution of the institution’s library and technology services.

Richard A. Danner, the Archibald C. and Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law Emeritus, retired as senior associate dean for information services and director of the J. Michael Goodson Law Library in July. Danner, who headed the library for more than 35 years, was a pioneer in the use of technology in legal education, research, and publishing, including helping spearhead the movement to provide free and open access to legal scholarship.

Danner’s successor will be the associate dean of information services, data, and technology and director of the Law Library. The Law School is seeking applicants who, regardless of background, “have a vision for the role of a research library and data science in legal research and scholarship and in the education of new lawyers,” said Dean David F. Levi.

“We had such tremendous leadership by Dick Danner, who was one of the transformative figures in law librarianship. He will always be known for his innovations in open access,” Levi said. “He’s brought us to the point where the law library is a research center, not just an archive, and that vision will dominate in the future for students, for whom developing a facility with data will be mandatory. We’re looking for somebody who has these skills and this vision.”

A. Kenneth Pye Professor of Law Katharine T. Bartlett, who is co-chairing the search committee with Associate Clinical Professor of Law Jeff Ward ’09, said that changes in the legal profession resulting from the increasing use of data science, artificial intelligence, automation, and other emerging technologies sparked an opportunity to rethink how the Law School’s library and technology services are structured and led. Duke has committed to taking leadership in the field of legal technology through a range of initiatives including offering new courses in e-discovery, blockchain, and robotics; incubating legal tech startups; and working with students to develop mobile apps that expand access to justice. The new associate dean might collaborate with faculty to address the need for skills training and other technology-related courses in the curriculum or pursue a scholarly agenda focused on the role of technology in the legal profession. 

“We really would like to be a model of how law schools should think about the relationship between research, public service, technology, and entrepreneurship,” Bartlett said. “We’re sending students out into the world to practice law that’s very different from what many of us know. We want the leader we find in this area to bring us along.”

Ward, who directs the Duke Center on Law & Technology, said the law library is a natural home for exploring and harnessing new developments in legal technology. Danner brought library and technology services under one umbrella, established a unified service desk for the two departments, and hired empirical research specialists to assist faculty and students with data-intensive projects. The library recently designated main-floor space as a Tech Hub, which students, faculty, and staff can use for learning, discussion, and collaboration around new technologies.

“Our Library and Academic Technologies staffs are already very savvy about the integration of legal technology, and our faculty and students look to them for guidance on technology issues,” Ward said. “We anticipate the new associate dean will not only continue that leadership but continue to make the Law School a center of gravity for scholars and policymakers helping to shape an increasingly tech-driven world. Law schools and legal advocacy have always shaped discussions around the effects of technological development on our social structures.”

Applications for the position will be accepted through Jan. 26. The complete job description can be viewed at https://law.duke.edu/about/jobs/.