Campus News

December 9, 2011

Office of General Counsel has new roles, structure

From left to right: Beth Clark-Morrison, Steve Sencer, Amy Adelman and Jane Jordan.

The Office of General Counsel has recently undergone an internal restructuring to adapt to the increasing complexity of the Emory enterprise.

The Office of General Counsel provides legal representation to all of Emory University, including Emory Healthcare, The Emory Clinic, and soon, Saint Joseph's Hospital through a new joint venture.

The move to restructure came after Steve Sencer took over the post of senior vice president and general counsel in 2010.  At that time, the attorneys were organized as a "health care" team and a "university" team. 

"We took a hard look at how we best serve the entire enterprise, and it was clear that breaking down barriers between the health care and university teams would be good for the office and for our clients," Sencer says. "After all, it is one office supporting the entire Emory system."

The office is now organized by function, with two primary working groups: transaction and litigation, overseen by Beth Clark-Morrison and Amy Adelman, respectively, two longtime Emory lawyers who were promoted to new leadership roles as senior managing attorneys. 

According to Sencer, "Beth and Amy are both excellent attorneys who know Emory well.  As employment attorneys their practice has reached broadly throughout the system, which makes them well-prepared for these expanded roles."

New roles, broad strategies

Jane Jordan, who joined Emory in 2001, is now the sole deputy general counsel in an expanded role, as well as continuing her role as chief counsel for health affairs. In that capacity, she has primary responsibility for health care-related issues across the University and health care system.

While she previously shared the deputy general counsel role with Sencer, restructuring the position allowed for one deputy who is able to address all issues relating to the entire enterprise and to coordinate strategy on behalf of the health sciences and the University.

"The work of Emory Healthcare and the work of the University are in many ways interdependent," says Sencer. "Expanding Jane's role so that she's the deputy for the entire university is part of our effort to make sure that our representation of the university and the health care system are as coordinated and aligned as possible."

Says Jordan of her expanded role: "Having the knowledge base of all work in the office certainly helps me provide better and more complete advice to both the health sciences clients and the university clients from a strategic standpoint, which better serves the entire enterprise." 

Adelman, at Emory since 2003 with a specialty in employment and student affairs, is now senior managing attorney for litigation. Clark-Morrison, who joined Emory in 1997 with a specialty in employment litigation, is now senior managing attorney for the transaction team.

Adelman and Clark-Morrison manage and help lead the entire legal team of 14 lawyers who work closely with clients to develop and execute legal strategies across a range of practice areas, including academic, health care, employment, intellectual property, corporate, real estate, tax, litigation and compliance.

"Creating these two new roles of senior managing attorneys creates more efficiency and permits needed focus on day-to-day operational and administrative issues that must be addressed," says Jordan. Furthermore, "it promotes better strategic discussions and substantive communications on what each of us are doing."

"These changes – which we hope will feel seamless to our clients -- are to make sure that we're having enhanced leadership opportunities and running a well-functioning office internally," says Sencer. "But it's also to try and do our part to reduce divisions, and make sure we've got one group representing everybody so that information flows appropriately, and decisions are being made consistently across the institution."

"Law is fundamentally a service profession," says Sencer, "and our client is Emory University." He continues: "Our goal is to know enough about the workings and the objectives of the university so that we can be real collaborators with our clients in achieving the university's goals."

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