Life as a University Inhouse Counsel

5 Aug ’05

Via Eric Goldman, here’s a fascinating article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the life of one university inhouse counsel. Gist:

When an alligator lurking in Lake Alice on the University of Florida campus here devoured someone’s pet poodle several years ago, Pamela J. Bernard’s telephone rang. It was a concerned university risk manager, asking her what to do.

As the university’s general counsel, Ms. Bernard must be ready for anything, and her campus clients expect immediate answers. “It’s like a final exam every day,” she says.

Right now she is working with campus administrators to update sexual-assault procedures. She is advising two university entomologists whose work breeding and releasing endangered butterflies into the wild was halted by a lawsuit. She is counseling both the student-affairs office, on the case of a parent who says that she found dangerous levels of asbestos in her son’s dorm room, and the environmental health and safety office, on the case of three women who say that their cancer is a result of living near a former campus landfill in the 1970s.

At a time when society is increasingly litigious, and higher education is subject to more federal and state regulations than ever before, there is no rest for the weary in a university general counsel’s office.

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