Overview

Williams College invites applications and nominations for the position of General Counsel. Reporting directly to the Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, the General Counsel will be responsible for providing oversight on all legal matters at the college and will be expected to advise college officers on a wide range of issues across the institution. The General Counsel works closely with the President, Board of Trustees and other senior administrators on governance and regulatory matters and manages the college’s relationships with external legal counsel.

The General Counsel’s role at Williams involves a substantial amount of hands-on legal work. A significant portion of the work involves reviewing, drafting, editing, and in some cases, negotiating a broad range of legal agreements. Some are relatively standard commercial agreements, but many are specific to the college’s educational mission. The person in this position works collaboratively with many offices on campus and must have a deep understanding of the organizational culture and decision-making processes at a small liberal arts college.

The range of activities under the purview of the General Counsel is broad and varied given the complexity of the college’s activities and the current legal and regulatory climate. Some of the business-related legal work includes, but is not limited to, vendor contracts, software purchase and licensing agreements, equipment leases, energy purchase and service agreements and pension, retirement and health benefit contracts. This position also works closely with the offices of gift planning and estate and trust administration reviewing planned giving arrangements, providing general advice on trust and estate administration and serving as a member of the Trust Administration Committee.

The General Counsel is also involved in providing advice with respect to the college’s role as an employer, including activities related to employment discrimination and other grievances, compliance with employment law and regulation and employee benefits programs. The General Counsel serves on the Retirement Plan Committee and is actively involved in the college’s relationships with the service providers to the Plan, including investment advisors and accountants. Given the special legal status of faculty, employment law questions related to faculty is another significant aspect of legal work performed by the General Counsel.

Advice on educational issues is another key responsibility of the General Counsel. Much of this work focuses on student discipline cases. Other student related activity includes issues associated with athletics, student travel abroad and student events. The General Counsel also provides assistance and guidance on a range of other activities including insurance and tax matters, college by-laws, conflict of interest, financial reporting and compliance issues.

An important component of the General Counsel’s responsibilities is the oversight of outside counsel. The college has relationships with several firms that provide legal advice in employment, student affairs, employee benefits, the retirement plan, bond financings, construction project contracting and planned giving. Managing these relationships and understanding how and when to engage, or not engage, these firms on specific issues are critical components of the job.

 

Qualifications

 

The successful candidate will be a collaborative, strategic and intellectually agile attorney with admission to the bar in Massachusetts (or eligibility to become admitted with twelve months of employment). The successful candidate will possess:

  • Superb analytical, research, writing, advocacy and problem-solving skills;
  • The ability to inspire trust, communicate effectively and build relationships across all college constituencies;
  • A deep understanding of the legal and regulatory challenges facing higher education;
  • Sophisticated ability to understand and manage risk and compliance issues;
  • A solid working knowledge of matters related to employment law, disability law, higher education law, and other anti-discrimination laws, FERPA, Titles VI, VII and IX and the Clery Act;
  • Expertise in laws impacting the college such as HIPAA, ERISA, FMLA, FLSA, OSHA, and NCAA rules;
  • Experience working with state and federal administrative agencies;
  • A commitment to and appreciation for the importance of diversity and inclusion in higher education and at Williams; and,
  • The highest standard of personal ethics and integrity;

Williams College is a coeducational, liberal arts institution located in western Massachusetts, roughly three hours from both Boston and New York City.  Williams’ reputation as one of the top colleges in the nation is built on the outstanding teaching and scholarship of its faculty and on the academic excellence of its students.

Review of resumes will begin in early September and continue until the position is filled. The anticipated start will be in November.

 

Conditions of Employment

 

Employment at Williams is contingent on the verification of background information submitted by the applicant, including the completion of a criminal record check, and education when applicable.

 

Equal Employment Opportunity

 

Beyond meeting fully its legal obligations for non-discrimination, Williams College is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community where members from all backgrounds can live, learn and thrive.

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