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Challenges of a General Counsel

Fall 2012 Seminar
Meets: T 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 4063
2 classroom credits

Prof. David Wilkins

Distinguished Senior Fellow Ben Heineman

This course will explore the three fundamental roles of lawyers---acute technician, wise counselor and lawyer as leader---in a series of problems faced by general counsel of multi-national corporations. The "cases" in this course involve questions beyond "what is legal" and focus on "what is right", using specific illustrations drawn from the contemporary business world -- e.g. the BP oil spill, Google’s clash with the Chinese government, the Mark Hurd resignation from Hewlett Packard, the News Corp hacking scandal. These cases involve a broad range of considerations: ethics, reputation, risk management, public policy, politics, communications and corporate citizenship. The course will advance for critical analysis the idea of the general counsel as lawyer-statesman who has a central role in setting the direction of the corporation but who must navigate complex internal relationships (with business leaders, the board of directors, peer senior officers, the bureaucracy) and challenging external ones (with stakeholders, governments, law firms, NGOs and media in nations and regions across the globe). The course advances a broad view of lawyers’ roles and examines the skills, beyond understanding law, required in complex problem-solving by the lawyer-statesman. Students will be expected to write short 2-3 page "response papers" on the readings each week. Students will also write a short 10-12 page paper, either responding to a scenario similar to the ones discussed in class, or on another topic approved by the instructors. Grades will be based 50% on class participation and the response papers (which will be graded pass/fail) and 50% on the paper at the end of the term.

This seminar does not satisfy the Professional Responsibility requirement.

Distinguished Visitor from Practice Michael Solender, General Counsel at Ernst & Young LLP, also will participate in the seminar.

Subject Areas: Legal Profession, Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility , Procedure & Practice , Regulatory Law .

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