In This Section:

Vice President and General Counsel

American University

Please submit a resume in Microsoft Word format with a letter describing your interest and relevant skills addressed to:

Deborah Ben-Canaan, Partner, dbencanaan@mlaglobal.com and Michael Sachs, Partner, msachs@mlaglobal.com

American University has engaged Major Lindsey & Africa on an exclusive basis to conduct a search for a Vice President and General Counsel to be located in Washington, DC. Interested candidates please submit your resume (in MS Word format) to Deborah Ben-Canaan at dbencanaan@mlaglobal.com, and Michael Sachs at msachs@mlaglobal.com or to the MLA recruiter who contacted you about this position. Please do not contact the University directly; all resumes sent to the University will be routed to MLA for handling and will create delays.

VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL – SUMMARY DESCRIPTION  
OverviewAmerican University is hiring a principal legal officer for the University, with overall responsibility for the vision and leadership of AU’s legal strategy. Reporting to the President, the General Counsel will provide legal advice and counsel to the President, Board of Trustees, and other members of the university community on a broad range of legal matters affecting American University. The General Counsel will have opportunities surrounding institutional leadership and analysis and the strengthening of legal oversight, as well as additional areas of opportunity and responsibility. The General Counsel oversees an office of five attorneys, and is a member of the President’s Cabinet. This position will be located in Washington, DC.

Institution: For information, please visit: www.american.edu.

Compensation: Competitive salary and benefits.

Experience: American University is seeking candidates who have at least 15 years of legal experience, and preferably a solid understanding of matters related to higher education law including employment law, ADA, VAWA, FERPA, Title IX and Clery. The right candidate will possess a record of professional experience that demonstrates progressive responsibilities and significant interaction with senior leadership teams. The successful candidate will be forward-thinking, can move expeditiously and proactively on numerous fronts, possess a world-class intellect, and have demonstrated collaborative, evaluative leadership in his or her prior roles. Experience in higher education is preferred. Experience serving in a prominent leadership role, managing direct reports, and working effectively with various constituencies is a clear advantage. Candidates with “servant leader” qualities are strongly desired.

Relocation: Yes. This is a national search.

POSITION INFORMATION
American University’s Vice President and General Counsel will serve as the principal legal officer for the University, with overall responsibility for the vision and leadership of AU’s legal strategy. Reporting to the President, as a valued member of the senior leadership team, the General Counsel will provide legal advice and counsel to the President, Board of Trustees, and other members of the University community on all significant matters affecting the University, legal or otherwise. The General Counsel also will be responsible for providing advice and counsel to the Board of Trustees on all governance issues. This position provides an excellent opportunity to serve as a trusted advisor on the senior leadership team of a prominent University in the nation’s capital.

RESPONSIBILITIES
The Vice President and General Counsel will have the following responsibilities and opportunities:

  • Developing a vision for legal services in conjunction with the President and Senior Leadership, and sharing best practices and recommendations for how to best execute legal services with an eye to institutional risk and ongoing support for academic initiatives and programs.
  • Serving as a strategic thought partner to the President, Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership on institutional objectives and priorities.
  • Working closely with the Board of Trustees and advise and counsel on all governance matters.
  • Anticipating issues and risk, sharing pertinent information with the President and Senior Leadership, as well as other relevant parties, including the Board of Trustees.
  • Keeping abreast of compliance/regulatory related changes and educate University constituents.
  • Analyzing current inventory of legal needs across the University, external legal resources currently in use and constituents currently engaging with legal counsel.
  • Reviewing compliance with regulations, policies, contracts and business practices.
  • Determining when external resources will be necessary and retain resources for legal assistance.
  • Assessing institutional risk and coordinate with other University principals to support this work.
  • Representing or overseeing representation of the University during administrative or judicial proceedings.
  • Drafting and reviewing contracts, and advising on legal issues raised within contractual relationships.
  • Providing executive and managerial education on legal issues in higher education for University constituents as it relates to their work.

QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS
American University seeks an exceptionally accomplished attorney with a distinguished professional record. Personal and professional ‘fit’ within the University’s culture is of paramount importance. Candidates must be self-motivated and exhibit a passion for understanding the University and serving as its attorney, as well as contributing in a meaningful way to strategy and long term goals. In addition to possessing the requisite legal and technical skills, the successful candidate must approach this role as an experienced leader and demonstrate a high degree of strategic, conceptual and analytical thinking capabilities. This candidate will possess an understanding of and appreciation for an academic environment, the roles and relationships of faculty, staff and students, and the diverse needs of various constituents.

KEY QUALIFICATIONS

  • A JD and membership in the DC Bar or the ability to obtain membership within a reasonable amount of time.
  • At least 15 years of progressively responsible legal experience. Experience in higher education law is preferred.
  • A solid understanding of matters related to higher education, including employment law, ADA, VAWA, FERPA, Title IX and Clery, is considered a clear advantage.
  • Experience in some of the following legal areas: Labor, employment and ERISA; Governance; Risk Management and insurance; Student Life; Non-discrimination and Affirmative Action; Compliance (Title IX, Clery, ADA, FERPA); Contract Administration; Regulatory; Privacy and Information Security; Intellectual Property; Environmental Health and Safety; Construction and Real Estate; New Ventures; Faculty Appointment and Tenure; Research; Gift Planning; and Athletics.
  • Outstanding executive leadership and management skills in all aspects of a legal and business environment with a proven ability to advise a successful, advancing institution.
  • Ability to work proactively collaboratively and cooperatively, and as a member of a team, while empowering clients and colleagues and emphasizing accountability.
  • Intellectually and conceptually nimble as well as creative with the ability to analyze, interpret, present, and communicate complex ideas and concepts in a clear, concise fashion.
  • Demonstrated leadership and management experience with professionals and support staff, including a successful track record in management and people leadership with the capacity to lead and motivate colleagues and other leaders confronting change and increased expectations in a highly visible organization.
  • Servant leadership” mentality and acumen is strongly desired by the University.
  • Superior intellect, with the ability to think critically and effectively communicate well-reasoned decisions; ability to see and handle more than the legal issues of a project; strong, pragmatic business acumen with the ability to recognize the broader consequences of a course of action and its impact on the many stakeholders; a strategic and innovative thinker who can bring value and find creative solutions to complex legal issues.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate (both orally and in written form) and interact effectively, presenting to large and small audiences, significant decision makers, Boards and employees.
  • High ethical standards, a strong moral compass, integrity, courage and perseverance.
  • A strong people orientation and sensitivity to cultural diversity.

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER AND ENCOURAGES DIVERSE CANDIDATES TO APPLY.

Process
Please submit a resume in Microsoft Word format with a letter describing your interest and relevant skills addressed to:

Deborah Ben-Canaan, Partner, dbencanaan@mlaglobal.com and Michael Sachs, Partner, msachs@mlaglobal.com

You may be required to complete additional documents to be considered for this position.