Remembering J. Paul Lomio, Director of Law School library

Paul Lomio

J. Paul Lomio, the director of the Robert Crown Law Library, passed away on Friday, March 6, 2015. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Inouye, and their daughter, Rita Lomio. The Law School will hold a celebration of life event on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.

“Paul was an extraordinary leader of the library, and he assembled a truly amazing staff,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, Dean and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law. “Paul had a single-minded vision for the library. He constantly thought about helping each and every library user, and he had the uncanny ability to identify what his users needed even before they did. Under Paul’s influence and leadership, that ethic pervades the entire staff. Paul was also a wonderful human being who, in his time here, changed our community for the better in thousands of ways. We are all mourning his loss.”

Lomio was born in 1950 in Schenectady, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Bonaventure University in 1972 before serving in the U.S. Army as a platoon leader until 1975 at Nike Hercules batteries in Fort Story, Virginia and Camp Holiday, South Korea. He went on to earn a law degree from Gonzaga University in 1978 and a master’s degree in law from the University of Washington School of Law in 1979. He was admitted to the Washington State Bar Association in 1978 and served as a guardian-ad-litem for the King County Juvenile Court and clerked for Judge T. Patrick Corbett of the King County Superior Court in Seattle in 1980. He went on to earn a master’s degree in library science in 1982 from the School of Library and Information Science at Catholic University of America.

Lomio joined the law school staff as a reference librarian in 1982 and, in 2005, then-Dean Larry Kramer named him director of the library. Over the course of a career spanning more than three decades, he became a specialist in legal research and the development of digital reserves—and much more.

“I had the opportunity to do a great many things when I was dean, but I would say—as I often did—that making Paul the director of our library was unquestionably the single best decision I ever made,” said Larry Kramer, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and dean of Stanford Law School from 2004 to 2012. “Paul was a consummate professional who took the library out of a deep deficit and remade it into an incredibly effective institution. But more than that, Paul was a wonderful human being who thought about people and did his utmost to improve their lives. This was true for students, for faculty, for alumni, and for his staff. He touched so many of us in wonderful and memorable ways.”

Lomio led a library team that was the envy of law schools throughout the country—his knowledge and enthusiasm for the work were contagious.

“Paul was a librarian’s librarian,” said Erika Wayne, deputy director of the Law Library. “He was the best mentor and boss. He had this amazing ability to remember all of your interests, and he would leave you books or articles. And he made the library so welcoming, introducing things like the bicycle borrowing program.”

Along with overseeing the library’s collection, Lomio spearheaded moves to bring the library’s holdings into the digital age. Key to his success was his willingness to embrace technology and understand the importance of data.

Lomio played a prominent role in helping launch the library’s earliest online initiative, the Women’s Legal History Biography Project, developed in collaboration with Barbara Babcock, the Judge John Crown Professor of Law, Emerita. The site features biographical chapters and archival information on hundreds of pioneering female lawyers in the United States.

Paul Lomio

“The qualities that made Paul a great person were also the ones that made him exceptional at his work,” said Babcock. “Above all, he was kind and caring; he was intellectually curious and enthusiastic about new ideas, utterly reliable and amazingly patient. It is hard to imagine the law school without his beneficent, loving presence.”

In 2011, he teamed up with the Rock Center to host the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s website, a massive database of the information gathered in the review of the financial crisis of 2008, thus preserving a valuable historical and educational resource for scholars.

“Paul was a sea of calm in a world of chaos,” said Joseph Grundfest, the W. A. Franke Professor of Law and Business, reflecting on the scope of the project. “Nothing ruffled his feathers, and nothing was impossible. It might take a little more time. But, to Paul, it wasn’t impossible.”

Lomio and his colleagues signing the 2008 "Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship"
Lomio and his colleagues signing the 2008 “Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship”

Lomio also played a key role in helping Grundfest to develop the Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, which provides detailed information relating to the prosecution, defense and settlement of federal class action securities fraud.

“Paul, Erika and the entire library team were absolutely essential to the launch of the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse which, today, might seem quaint, but was a pathbreaking innovation back when introduced in 1996,” said Grundfest. “It helped launch the idea that a library could be much more than a repository of books: it could also be the source of novel databases that would further academic research.” In 1997, the Smithsonian Institution recognized the clearinghouse as a “visionary use of information technology in the field of education and academia.”

For another project, Lomio worked closely with Barbara Fried, the William W. and Gertrude H. Saunders Professor of Law, to build a database of alumni in academia to track the law school’s placement success and put current and future alumni in the field in touch with each other.

“It was a massive undertaking, which took months of hard work by Paul and our wonderful library staff to complete,” said Fried. “For anyone who knew Paul, it goes without saying that the job was done perfectly, without any interference from me. But everyone here has their own Paul stories, too numerous to count. In addition to his perfectionism and work ethic, one of Paul’s secret weapons was that he had radar out all around him. He sought out opportunities to be of help to the faculty, remembered everything any of us had ever worked on and on his own initiative collected clippings and other materials he thought might be of interest to us. It often seemed as if he knew what we needed before we knew it ourselves. He walked softly on this earth, and left everything he touched better than he found it.”

2010-05-13_Erika-Wayne_Paul-Lomio
Erika Wayne with Paul Lomio

Lomio and the staff at the Robert Crown Law Library were also concerned with preserving vital historical data, producing a number of prominent online resources such as Election 2000, an award-winning online compendium of more than 600 documents related to court cases in the disputed 2000 presidential election, including the Supreme Court decision on Bush v. Gore. He helped to develop several substantial online bibliographies, including Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which contains primary materials on the U.S. military’s policy on sexual orientation from World War I to the present, and Same-Sex Marriage: An Annotated Bibliography.

In 2012, historical Superior Court records from hundreds of California’s counties were rescued from destruction by Lawrence M. Friedman, Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law, archived and made accessible to the public by Lomio and his staff. Noting the importance of the work, Friedman said: “Local legal records at the trial court level constitute a vast treasure house of information about the living law of the United States as it evolves over the years. These records are scattered among hundreds of counties; they are almost entirely un-indexed, un-catalogued—and unused except by lawyers interested in particular cases. Thousands of these records are vanishing every year, as counties and states struggle with problems of storage and space.”

Another hallmark of Lomio’s tenure was his keen interest in gaining public access to government documents and his leadership in that effort. In 2010 he helped to launch Law.gov, a group made up of legal scholars and practitioners including staff at the Crown Law Library.

“Law.gov seeks to make public—genuinely public—law from all three branches of government, for the first time ever. This hardly sounds revolutionary, but it is,” he told the Stanford Lawyer at the time. “Under the present system much of primary law is owned by corporations and locked behind pay walls, expensive pay walls at that. Even the government itself is paying large sums for access to its own legal information. Law.gov will make law accessible to everyone. This will force innovation—from the biggest existing players to individuals with visionary ideas who may create new legal research search tools, and more.”

Paul Lomio

“Paul Lomio was one of the first of the big law librarians to take free law and the Internet seriously,” said Carl Malamud, an activist archivist who advocates for free online access to local, state, and federal documents and the founder and president of the nonprofit Public.Resource.Org. “He helped me and many people I know in so many ways, always quietly and without fuss, but with great impact. He had a deep faith in the ability of citizens to participate in and understand our legal system, teaching generations of law students the skills of legal research but always carrying a deep conviction that this system should be available to all.” Lomio was also one of the original signatories to the 2008 “Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship,” which calls for all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.

Lomio made service to the law school community a priority and his work did not go unnoticed. He and his staff twice received the coveted Staff Appreciation Award from graduating law classes, once in 2002 and again in 2006.

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An archival family photo

Lomio also received Stanford University’s prestigious Marsh O’Neill Award in 1994, presented to staff in recognition of outstanding contributions to the university’s research mission. He said at the time that he was surprised to learn he had won the award and that the whole reference staff really deserved the recognition. “This award reflects the group that I work with rather than just myself. It’s an excellent team.” In the nomination form one law professor wrote that Lomio “far surpasses the level of service I was accustomed to. . . . He has made innumerable contributions to my own research in an unfailingly resourceful and imaginative way.” Another wrote, “He is so thoroughly imbued with the service ethic of librarianship at its best that he sometimes disappears as a person; but the signs of his activity are unmistakable. Once he learns that a faculty member or student is interested in a topic, he becomes a one-man clipping service.” And yet another wrote, “It is a sign of his dedication to learning (rather than merely to institutional role) that he does this not only for faculty but also for students.”

In addition to leading the library staff, Lomio was also a well-regarded lecturer at the law school, teaching  Advanced Legal Research and Directed Research. Students found Lomio and the library welcoming and supportive.

“Paul was always a great supporter of student work, always available and happy to set aside time to help us,” said Michael Mestitz JD ’15, President of Stanford Law Review. “More than once, I found an article or press clipping in my mailbox because Paul had seen something that related to a conversation we had, or that he thought would interest the Review. I know I speak for many students when I say he will be missed.”

This was particularly true for those with military service.

“Paul Lomio was SLVO’s first and continuous adviser,” said Jake Klonoski, JD ’13, a co-founder of the Stanford Law Veterans Organization. “Paul helped with setting up the group in 2010 and offered thoughts on how it could develop.  He also supplied a steady stream of supportive articles to individual vets regarding issues on which we might focus. I talked to him about the articles he left me once and Paul mentioned that he also intended them to give comfort to student-veterans, who can find the transition back to civilian life hard.  The pieces he chose often carried the implicit message that ‘you do not struggle alone.’  I personally found great comfort a number of times when I was having trouble and he left an article with a note in my basement mailbox.  Paul was simply a wonderful human being.”

Distinguished in his field, Lomio also published regularly, including “Law Journals and Open Access: A Call to Action” and How to Manage a Law School Library: Leading Librarians on Updating Resources, and Managing Budgets and Meeting Expectations. As a past member of the Association of American Law Schools Library and Technology Committee, he co-authored “A Statement of Principles of Electronic Publication of Law School-Based Journals.” He was a member of the editorial advisory board of DATABASE magazine and a member of the Law Librarians’ Advisory Committee to the California Office of Administrative Law. He was also a member of the Electronic Court Filing Task Force for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

After more than thirty years at the law library, Lomio had become not only a valued colleague, but also a welcoming and familiar face on campus. He was a longtime fan of Stanford sports and a 28-year Stanford women’s basketball season ticket holder. And he could regularly be seen bicycling through campus, working out at the Stanford gym, and hiking in the surrounding foothills. As faculty, staff, and students reflect on Lomio’s contributions to the law school, it is his good-natured dedication to his work that stands out.

Paul Lomio

“Stanford Law School obviously has a lot of brains, but Paul Lomio was in many ways the Law School’s heart,” said Pamela S. Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic (on leave 2014-2015). “He was endlessly helpful, often figuring out what I needed before I even knew I needed it.  Whether it was research, teaching materials, or stuff about which I had an idle curiosity, he was indispensable.”

“For so many of us, Paul was an invaluable member of the Stanford community, both personally and professionally,” said Deborah Rhode, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law. “His extraordinary talents, conscientiousness, and good humor will be missed more than I can say.”

“Paul was irreplaceable in every sense of the word,” said Robert Rabin, A. Calder Mackay Professor of Law. “He was a truly fine human being: modest, intellectually serious, and deeply committed to making the Stanford library a shining light for all of us whose work was enriched by him and his staff. Not only was he responsive to reference requests whenever and whatever I needed by way of assistance, but on countless occasions he anticipated what might be of use to me without my even asking. His passing leaves a permanent hole in my professional life.”

“There is no doubt that generations of Stanford law alumni are better scholars and practitioners because of Paul,” said Sal Bonaccorso, JD ’15. “But what I personally cherished about him was how exceptionally fair-minded and kind he was in all of our interactions.  These qualities are so often overlooked but are precisely what made Paul such a great teacher and an invaluable member of the community.”

“Paul’s death is an unimaginable loss to the law school,” said Fried. “Paul was the consummate professional, utterly selfless, wise, tireless. He dedicated his life to making the school a better place for all of us—students, faculty and staff—and succeeded beyond compare.”