Richard B. Hirst
Richard “Ben” Hirst is executive vice president and chief legal officer of Delta Air Lines.
Under Ben’s leadership, Delta has played a key role, alongside the industry association Airlines for America (A4A) in advocating for U.S. policy changes to allow the nation’s airlines to compete effectively in a global marketplace. Ben and his team also work closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation on various Delta initiatives, including the successful trade of certain take-off and landing rights which enabled the airline’s historic 2012 expansion at New York’s LaGuardia airport.
Before joining Delta in 2008, Ben served as Northwest Airlines’ senior vice president – Corporate Affairs and General Counsel. He began at Northwest in 1990 as senior vice president – General Counsel and in 1994 assumed responsibility for Corporate Affairs. In 1999, Ben left Northwest to become general counsel of the Minnesota Twins, before being named executive vice president and general counsel of Burger King Corporation and later executive vice president and chief legal officer of KB Home. In 2007, Ben returned to Northwest to oversee the company’s legal affairs and internal and external communications. Before joining Northwest, Ben was vice president – General Counsel and Secretary at Continental Airlines from 1986 to 1990.
Ben’s background also includes a position as associate professor of Law at the University of Puget Sound Law School in Tacoma, Wash., and assistant to the director of International and Domestic Aviation for the Civil Aeronautics Board during the deregulation of the airline industry. In his early career Ben was in private law practice in Vermont, served as a law clerk in U.S. District Court in Vermont and was a reporter on the Providence (R.I.) Journal-Bulletin.
Ben graduated from Harvard College in 1969 and Harvard Law School in 1972.