General Counsel

Providence, Rhode Island
Jan 12, 2021
Executive Administration Jobs
Other Executive Administration
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Job Summary


Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has a distinguished history of providing innovative leadership in art and design education and an ongoing commitment to creative experimentation and risk-taking. This progressive, inquisitive attitude permeates RISD’s campus culture, supporting the undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, curators, administrative, and support staff who form our community. RISD’s students are diverse, coming from a wide range of geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, representing all forms of diversity. The College strives to cultivate a culturally competent campus environment that advances principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental and climate justice, and equal access to resources and opportunities.




RISD seeks a General Counsel to serve as the College’s primary legal counsel, managing its legal affairs. Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration with a dotted line to the President, the General Counsel acts with integrity and impartiality, providing legal counsel to the College’s trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, student leaders, and affiliated entities in connection with their activities on behalf of the College. This position serves as an essential resource for promoting and facilitating, informed decision-making on business, policy, and strategic matters having legal dimensions or significance. In addition, the General Counsel is a valuable member of the President’s Cabinet. The ideal candidate serves as a role model to others by using impartiality and tact while engaging in creative problem-solving to resolve legal issues and in preventive law practices to reduce legal risk. The General Counsel manages the budget for legal affairs and is responsible for retaining outside counsel as necessary for litigation and specialized matters and supervising and coordinating their work. This role also hires, develops, and oversees the Assistant General Counsel and legal administrative support staff. 




Essential Functions


  • Provide advice, assistance, and advocacy to trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, student leaders, and affiliated entities on all matters of legal significance to the College, including academic and artistic freedom, accreditation, admissions, affirmative action, art, charitable giving, civil and constitutional rights, construction, contract, disability, discrimination, employee benefit, federal grant, financial aid, governance, immigration, information technology, insurance, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, museum, nonprofit corporation, real estate, regulatory compliance, sponsored research, student affairs, the student code of conduct, sanctioning and behavioral intervention, Title IX and bias, tax, tax-exempt bond financing, threat assessment, tort, and other such matters; recommend legal strategies consistent with and in furtherance of the College’s mission and values.  


  • Review, negotiate, and/or draft contracts and other legal documents.  


  • Support College governance; review and/or draft bylaws, committee charters, resolutions, and other governance documents.  


  • Support College policy-making; serve on policy-making committees; review and/or draft policy documents.  


  • Support the College’s compliance, risk management, insurance, government relations, and public relations functions. 


  • Conduct and/or oversee and manage administrative proceedings and litigation; respond to subpoenas, document requests, bankruptcy notices, and other such matters. 


  • Monitor legal developments and inform relevant constituents of their ramifications; review, interpret, and/or draft proposed legislation.  


  • Prepare and provide preventive law workshops and educational materials. 


  • Retain and supervise outside counsel as needed.  


  • Participate and represent the College in the national higher education legal community. 




Required Knowledge/Skills/Experience


  • JD degree from an accredited ABA law school.  


  • Membership in or eligibility for admission to the Rhode Island Bar (Rhode Island membership required within 12 months of hire date).  


  • A minimum of ten years of directly related experience, preferably in higher education or the nonprofit sector.  


  • Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills; demonstrated knowledge of legal issues affecting private institutions of higher education including but not limited to Titles VI, VII, and IX, VAWA, and Clery Act; the aptitude to be a true generalist; sound judgment; discretion; diplomacy; objectivity; integrity and ethics.


  • Must demonstrate creativity; strategic thinking; a pragmatic, problem-solving approach and service orientation; the capacity to see and consider legal matters through the College’s stakeholders’ eyes; and the recognition that legal disputes are often as much human issues as legal ones, that legal concerns may legitimately be outweighed by other ones, and that the ultimate decision is the client’s.


  • Ability to work and communicate inclusively and effectively within a broadly diverse community of faculty, staff, and students.




Documents Needed to Apply:
*Cover Letter




*Special Instructions:


Applicants are requested to include in their cover letter information about how they will further the College’s goal of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.




Work Schedule:


35 hours per week


12 months per year




Employment Status:


Full-time, Exempt