Pike: Big Legal Win

Article excerpt

George H. Pike is the first to admit that he loves a good challenge. As IT's Legal Issues columnist since 2001, he says finding solutions to problems has always piqued his curiosity. And those analytical skills will definitely come in handy when he becomes the new director of the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern University's School of Law in Chicago next month.

The road to law librarianship has had its share of detours for Pike. After a false start as a psychology major at The College of Idaho, he says he "was fairly certain that it wasn't a direction into which I wanted to go with my life." Since there were already a few lawyers in his extended family, he decided to try law school instead and enrolled at the University of Idaho College of Law in the early 1980s. After graduating, he practiced law for the Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc. just "long enough to say that I'm pretty good at this," he says. "I won more cases than I lost, but I wasn't sure it was what I wanted to do for a living."

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So Pike deliberated about his future. During college, he had worked at the library while attending law school in Idaho. Smaller colleges meant smaller libraries, and, as a result, he was exposed to more on-the-job opportunities than other students. In law school, Pike says he "was basically the reference librarian for late evenings and weekends, and I did Lexis and Westlaw searches when they were still being done on big dumb terminals with 1,200-bit modems."

The longer he spent working at the library, the more he realized he had found his calling. Then, he had what he calls "lucky break No. 1 of his career": The librarian he worked for at the University of Idaho Law Library went on sabbatical leave, and Pike took the position for 1 year. Within 3 months, the verdict was in: Pike applied to library school at the University of Washington.

Pursuing librarianship "gave me the problem-solving challenges, and it gave me a teaching opportunity that I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I do," says Pike. After graduation, he became a law librarian at the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. …