Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Know Your General Counsel

There is a nice little article in the newest Chronicle of Higher Education reporting on a conference meeting for university general counsel. The thing I liked about this brief little article was the insight it gave me about the job of a university general counsel. They have to keep the interests of the institution in mind, because that is their client, not the various individual employees who might be speaking with them. And that must be a bit confusing for new GCs, and certainly can be for their colleagues -- as is pointed out in the article. There are so many layers of hierarchy at a university, and the individuals at those levels shift and change over time, though not usually very quickly.

And from my own point of view, in frustration with the extremely conservative, risk-averse advice that GCs tend to give to universities and libraries, the article was also helpful. They mention, specifically that issue. They advise going beyond the caution of an attorney general or silk stocking firm, and using the rule of, "would you want to see it on the front page of the paper?" I thought it was an interesting rule to make legal decisions with... Frustrating in the extreme, but I suppose it keeps litigation down.

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