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An Interview with Rob Sukol, Deputy Law Revision Counsel

This week’s interview is with Rob Sukol, Deputy Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Rob previously did the guest post titled “The United States Code Online – Downloadable XML Files and More” on In Custodia Legis.

Describe your background.rob-sukol-interview-photo

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The music scene in Philly grabbed me early. I played guitar and bass and was fortunate to work with, and learn from, some amazing musicians. I am married, with two grown sons. Our older son is a teacher, currently working in Yunnan Province, China. Our younger son is studying political science at Virginia Commonwealth University.

What is your academic/professional history?

In my 20s, I focused on music. I played in some great bands and had a lot of fun, but I was usually broke. By 30, I was married and needed a “real job”.

I went to work for the Social Security Administration, figuring I could continue to play music on weekends. To my surprise, I found that I actually enjoyed the Social Security job very much. For 10 years, I worked for the Social Security Administration in Pennsylvania, California, and Connecticut, climbing the ranks through various technical positions into management. At that point, I was ready for a new challenge.

At the ripe young age of 40, I quit my good-government-job to attend law school at Rutgers University-Camden. To the astonishment of my old music cronies, I graduated law school with honors and went to work for the Office of the Law Revision Counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives. I’ve been here ever since.

It’s proven to be a great place to work. The focus of my practice has been positive law codification. Over the past year, I have become involved in the House Modernization Project. This work involves the complete redesign of our technical systems in order to produce United States Code data in XML. It’s certainly an interesting challenge, especially for a non-techie type like me.

How would you describe your job to other people?

Put simply, I draft federal laws. I do a specialized type of legislative drafting called positive law codification. In essence, I study the existing federal statutory law on a given subject and prepare a restatement of the existing law to improve the clarity and organizational structure of the law, but without changing its meaning or effect.

Why did you want to work in the legislative branch?

When I left the Social Security Administration to attend law school, I knew I wanted to eventually return to federal service in some capacity. When offered a chance to join the team that creates the United States Code, that was simply too good an opportunity to turn down.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Library of Congress?

I have to give a shout-out to Congressional Research Service (CRS), which is an incredible resource for all congressional staff. The reports are accurate, thorough, and unbiased, and the CRS staff are unfailingly courteous and professional.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

After all these years, I still work as a musician on weekends, playing bass in a rock cover band.

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