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An Interview with Peter Quinn, Writer-Editor

Today’s interview is with Peter Quinn, a Writer-Editor in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Peter Quinn, Law Library of Congress. Photo by Kelly McKenna

Describe your background.

I was born in New York City but spent most of my childhood on the south shore of Long Island in the village of Bellport. It’s a waterfront community that survives on revenue from wealthy summer residents who prefer it to the glitz and crowds of the Hamptons. A nice place to grow up, but it’s difficult to make a living there unless you’re willing to commute at least four hours every day to and from a job in the city, as my father did for decades.

What is your academic/professional history?

I received my undergraduate degree in history from St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y., and my law degree from the Catholic University of America here in Washington, D.C., where I subsequently became a member of the bar. Most of my working life has been in legal publishing, including at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now the American Association for Justice) and the Bureau of National Affairs (now Bloomberg Industry Group).

How would you describe your job to other people?

The Global Legal Research Directorate responds to research requests from Congress, federal agencies, and other Library patrons about legal issues in foreign countries. As most of the draft responses are prepared by authors who are foreign-trained and for whom English may be a second language, the GLRD editorial staff assist them in making sure the responses reflect standard American English and the legal information can be clearly understood by a US audience.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

It’s a privilege to work at such a prestigious institution – the world’s largest law library – and with so many interesting and talented people from across the globe.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?

The Law Library has GLRD country reports going back to the 1940s, in paper form. They are part of a digitization project, which will make as many public as possible. As someone who majored in history, I know that will be a boon to researchers seeking information, for example, on developments during the Cold War.

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

I’m a volunteer and board member for an urban farm on the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery in the Brookland neighborhood of D.C. Since 2014, the farm has donated more than 17 tons of fresh produce to D.C. Central Kitchen, the Capital Area Food Bank, and other food pantries to combat hunger. We are renovating a commercial-size, cast-iron and glass greenhouse built in 1915 to restore it to year-round production. The Washington Post published an article on the project last year..

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