Cooper Shattuck Graduates to GC Post at University of Alabama System
Cooper Shattuck has graduated to the top lawyer post at The University of Alabama System, returning to his alma mater while simultaneously erasing his long daily commute. Now the general counsel is working at the universitys campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, his longtime home base and the city where he and his wife raised their four daughters.
I was coming home in more ways than oneto my family and to the place where my legal career started, says Shattuck. Before, I learned to avoid the university traffic and all of the buzz from the students, but now I drive through the middle of it with my windows down and a big smile on my face.
Before his homecoming, the Southern gentleman was top legal adviser to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. The job was based in the state capitals, Montgomery, which is about two hours from Shattucks home.
The transition from government to university has been seamlessand gradual. Both employers have been flexible, the jobs have informed one another, and Shattuck has the opportunity to work on a breadth of issues.
In his government role, Shattuck represented the state in its handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, a task he continues to work on while he transitions from the state to the university. He recently filed a claim against the oil company BP PLC on behalf of the state. Part of the deal with me coming here was that I would be able to continue that, Shattuck said. Im in a unique position, he says. Whats good for the state is good for the university.
The two entities are similar, which helps with the transition, says Shattuck. Their operating budgets are similarly sized, the university is the states third-largest employer, and Shattuck also cites the combined 225 years of experience of his 15 colleagues. The matters Shattuck works on are often similar, too. For the governor, Shattuck handled natural disasters and controversial laws. In his post at the university, he inherited a disaster of a very different kind. In 2010, Huntsville campus professor Amy Bishop murdered three of her colleagues. (She was sentenced to life in prison without parole in late September.) You just never know what youre going to be faced with in a public institution, Shattuck says.
Before joining the governors legal team in January 2011, Shattuck was a shareholder at the regional firm Rosen Hardwood. Hes worked on matters running the legal gamut: construction and bonds, civil litigation, alternative disputes and mediation, plaintiff and defense litigation, employment and labor, and general corporate law. Shattuck has also taught courses at the University of Alabama over the last eight years. He graduated from the universitys law school in 1990 after earning a bachelors degree in economics from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1987.
For all of his accomplishments, Shattuck says he is humbled by his luck in the law. I was lucky to have worked in the largest law firm in Tuscaloosa and I didnt get pigeonholed in any way, with any client, industry, or practice, says Shattuck. As my client bases or interests have changed, I was able to get wide exposure. I got opportunities you wouldnt think a lawyer from Tuscaloosa would get.