Incoming general counsel must be young, experienced
As a Board of Trustees committee searches for the next general counsel, the university should consider distancing itself from the law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King and bring in a young but experienced lawyer to help the university.
Thomas Evans, Syracuse University’s general counsel since 2006, announced plans to retire last week. Before he became general counsel, Evans worked at BSK and began representing the university in 1972. This summer, the SU Board of Trustees criticized the 2005 investigation into child molestation allegations made against Bernie Fine. Despite the history between SU and BSK, the university now has an opportunity to explore other options.
BSK is ranked No. 202 on the National Law Journal’s 250 rankings for 2012. The firm is not ranked in the top 200 by The American Lawyer magazine either. As a university, SU should strive to bring in a lawyer from one of the top 200, or even top 100, law firms in the country.
Committee officials must look to find a lawyer who has experience and knowledge of the typical legal problems and challenges facing a private university. This means understanding how the finances, athletics and academics of the university work. Officials must also be able to find a lawyer who can adapt quickly to SU’s protocols and learn SU’s history.
SU should look to find a lawyer who can grow with the university. Evans has been working with SU in some capacity for 40 years. Officials should look for a candidate who has enough experience to adequately do the job, but who is young enough to continue working with the university for a significant amount of time, like Evans was when he first began.
Evans is set to retire on July 1. Officials must work quickly to hire a replacement who can spend time learning about the university before officially beginning.
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