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University General Counsel

Fairmont State University
West Virginia, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Dec 1, 2022
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Posting Details

Posting Summary

Working Title

University General Counsel

Type of Position

Staff - Full Time


Compliance and General Counsel

Appointment Length

July - June (12 mo)

Benefits Eligible?


Published Salary

Requested Part-Time Staff Hours




Grant Funded Position?


If temporary (or grant funded) position, indicate ending date

Description of Job Duties and Responsibilities

Fairmont State University, a comprehensive regional university in North Central West Virginia, invites nominations and applications for University General Counsel. Reporting to the President of the University, the General Counsel is solely responsible for providing leadership and in-house legal services for Fairmont State University. University Legal Counsel provides legal advice to the President, Board of Governors, Executive Leadership, and senior academic and non-academic units of the University.

The General Counsel is a member of the President’s Cabinet and works in close partnership and collaboration with the executive leadership of the University. The General Counsel reviews and recommends institutional policies and procedures, reviews and prepares contracts and other legal documents, and provides legal opinions to university committees and councils as directed by the Board of Governors or the University President. The General Counsel also directs and supervises the University’s compliance division, including Title VII, Title IX, and Clery Act.

The General Counsel leads the Office of the General Counsel in working to provide practical and strategic counsel that:
  • Reflects Fairmont State University’s mission, vision, and values
  • Assures compliance with applicable laws
  • Makes best use of available resources, consistent with the University’s strategic priorities
Under the leadership of the General Counsel, the Office will meet the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and professionalism in its work and treat clients and counterparties alike with empathy, dignity, and respect. Additionally, Fairmont State University places a high value on collegiality, civility, collaboration, and communication; our next General Counsel is expected to reflect those values in the operation of his/her duties.

The General Counsel is expected to work creatively with colleagues to determine the best approach, under the circumstances, develop creative solutions, and establish systems and practices to maximize opportunity and reduce the risk for the University. Many topics, such as student rights, free exercise of religion, intellectual property, and tenure, are unique to an academic environment.

  • Identify pertinent legal issues and provide a full range of legal advice to the President and Board of Governors.
  • Respond to inquiries from administrators, faculty, and staff, as well as from university, school, department, and student committees and organizations on legal matters relevant to the University.
  • Review and draft contracts, agreements and other legal documents, as well as prepare formal legal opinions and memos.
  • Lead the review, formation, and implementation of institutional policies and procedures, guidelines, and other documents.
  • Review and advise on legislation, policies, rules and regulations. Coordinate the handling of legal issues and concerns for the institution.
  • Conduct legal research and prepare documents, including opinions, memoranda, briefs, reports, and correspondences.
  • Represent the University in hearings, court proceedings, and other legal proceedings and meetings.
  • Prepare presentations, as needed, for the President, meetings of the Board of Governors, or other administrators.
  • Work in conjunction with the WV Higher Education Policy Commission’s legal counsel for lawsuits, grievances, and mediations.
  • Serve as the West Virginia Open Records Request officer.
  • Administer trademark licensing and enforcement.
  • Foster the development and dissemination of knowledge regarding institutional rights associated with ownership and the benefits that may be derived from the creation of Intellectual Property.
  • Perform other duties and responsibilities as necessary and as assigned by the University President and/or the Board of Governors.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities:

Ability to work effectively and sensitively in a diverse environment:
Competency working with faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni, the community, the Board of Governors, and campus guests of different cultural, racial, ethnic, citizenship and socioeconomic backgrounds with a special sensitivity to how personal experience may affect each individual’s experience in the University environment.

Demonstrated ability to successfully manage an institutional legal office:
Ability to provide competent legal advice and counsel on a wide range of legal and policy issues. Knowledge of all applicable laws and regulations which impact University policy and operations. Ability to analyze and interpret issues and prepare legal memoranda for other University executives. Ability to supervise and train employees including organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling work assignments. Knowledge of current and developing legal trends impacting higher education. Expertise in conducting legal research. Proven effectiveness as a negotiator, counselor, and advocate. Knowledge and understanding of institutional policies and the regulatory environment in which they operate. Knowledge of contract law. Knowledge of the WV judicial system and procedures.

Knowledge of legal documentation procedures and requirements:
Ability to manage and implement legal strategies and solutions. Knowledge of community legal resources. Knowledge of faculty. staff, and administrative hiring procedures.

Ability to work with a high level of productivity, attention to detail, sensitivity, and confidentiality:
Excellent organizational and time management skills with the ability to set own priorities, to coordinate multiple assignments, and to be able to fluctuate with time-sensitive deadlines. Upholds the highest standards in legal ethics, particularly with regard to confidentiality, privilege, and work product. Uses sound judgment and strict discretion when communicating.

Excellent computer skills and proficiency with a wide variety of computer applications:
Word, the full range of Office 365 applications, enterprise management systems, communications management systems, and learning management systems.

Broad knowledge of, or ability to quickly learn:
Higher education governance, organizational structure, instructional programs, and academic policies and procedures to encompass a global perspective within the University environment.

Proven ability to mentor and work collaboratively:
To foster skill development and high performance from direct reports in both an individual and team-wide capacity. Strong management skills, including strategic planning, ability to manage multiple functions, and skill in organizing institutional resources to meet goals and objectives. Demonstrated ability to work with senior officials and executives from within and without the University. Ability to think strategically and innovatively and serve as a sounding board for other top-level executives.

Cultivates connections with others that make a positive contribution to the well-being of those involved. Works toward a common objective through the sharing of ideas and distribution of responsibilities across team members. Has strong interpersonal skills , including collaboration, professionalism, and strong consultative skills conducive to building and maintaining positive relationships with faculty, staff, students, administrators, and other campus constituencies.

Budget Management:
Proven experience administering budgets. Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues in budget development and shared resource planning.

Administrative and organizational acumen:
Knowledge of best practices in the analysis and evaluation of university programs, procedures, and policies. Commitment to applying those best practices to ensure effective university governance.

Growth mindset:
Demonstrates consistent resiliency to promote positive change through adversity, identifies potential change opportunities, and seeks to adapt to new outcomes. Assesses and utilizes creative strategies to create individual and organizational change within a specific situational context.

Minimum Required Education

A Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an American Bar Association ( ABA ) accredited law school is required.

Required Licenses and/or Certifications

Licensed to practice law in the State of West Virginia and a member in good standing with the West Virginia State Bar.

Minimum Required Qualifications
  • At least seven years of legal experience in delivering a broad range of legal services to or within a complex legal organization is required.
  • Experience practicing employment law, relevant administrative law, or as general counsel is required.
Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience serving Higher Education clients is highly desirable.
  • A working understanding of West Virginia state higher education rules, policies, and systems is preferred.
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