The mission of the Office of General Counsel is to provide first class legal services to Northwestern University. While the University as an institution is our client, legal services are provided through the Board of Trustees, the President, the Provost, vice presidents, deans and heads of other academic units, administrative department heads, and other representatives of the University who raise questions relating to the interests of the University. This personalization of services makes it especially important that we place the institution’s needs and interests above those of any of its units or of any employee.
As employed internal counsel, we are expected to understand the University and its mission and objectives, and to use this understanding to alert the appropriate people to the existence of legal issues that may affect them. We keep abreast of legislative, regulatory and case law so that requirements imposed by new developments may be met. Also, we keep abreast of issues affecting higher education generally so that our advice is given in the context not only of Northwestern University’s needs but also of developments affecting higher education at large.
Our work, to the maximum extent possible, is preventive - to keep questions from becoming problems and problems from becoming lawsuits. Through timely and knowledgeable advice, we aid our clients in avoiding or reducing exposure to legal risks. We help the University discharge its mission by helping to create an awareness of the legal ramifications of proposed actions, and suggesting alternate solutions where problems arise. Through regular interaction, formal and informal, with many individuals in the University, we are often able to help our clients analyze situations and sharpen their own objectives and strategies.
We are responsible for assuring that appropriate resources are brought to bear in the resolution of legal matters. Where outside counsel is retained, we exercise close supervision to yield the best quality service at reasonable cost.
When required to appear before courts, administrative agencies, or other public bodies, we provide strong and responsible advocacy. In non-adversary public situations we are also advocates for the University and its mission, recognizing that our work in every setting reflects not just on us as lawyers, but on the institution as well.
In fulfilling the mission of this office, we exercise professional competence and independent judgment, avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof, and maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.