Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Your College’s Top Lawyer Has Never Been More Powerful

Chronicle of Higher Education [unpaywalled] – The general counsel’s office wields tremendous influence. Is that a good think? “Once upon a time, administrators on college campuses would gather in corner offices to write new policies or start new programs. When their work was done, someone would say, “run this past the lawyer” to make sure all the legal t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted. That lawyer was seldom found down the hall, but in some downtown office building. Today, the lawyer is not only in the meeting, but increasingly casts a deciding vote. General counsels wield considerable power atop campus organizational charts, sitting in on nearly all high-level meetings and shaping colleges’ responses to everything including Supreme Court rulings and how much of the endowment should be spent. A whisper in the president’s ear or a timely memo to the board chair can scuttle a program, send another administrator packing, or even shift a college’s direction. Our annual investigation into the most consequential developments in higher education. Explore other trends in the report. The growing power in the counsel’s office can have negative consequences. Caution about legal vulnerability can lead campuses to overreact to restrictive laws, or even shield allegations of abuse from public scrutiny. It has led to the prevalence on college campuses of what one critic calls “repressive legalism.” But as regulatory mandates continue to roll out — both political parties have plans for increased regulation of higher education — and as societal pressures mount, the number of staff lawyers and their authority are likely to keep expanding..”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.