Shifting from the Public Sector to U. of Michigan GC Role
Asked why he was drawn to the University of Michigans general counsel opening, Timothy Lynch quoted Wolverines football coach Brady Hoke: Its Michigan, for Gods sake.
The school would be a dream client for any lawyer, says Lynch, speaking to CorpCounsel.com on Tuesdayhis second day on the job. His goal is making sure the Office of the General Counsel provides the kind of legal advice a world-class educational and research institution like Michigan deserves.
Lynch replaces Suellyn Scarnecchia, who stepped down in May to return to a faculty position at the University of Michigan School of Law.
The new GC and vice president comes to Ann Arbor from the U.S. Department of Energy, where he served as deputy GC for litigation and enforcement. Lynch helped establish the DOEs Office of Enforcementnow a five-lawyer divisionin 2010 and served as acting GC from December 2011 through April 2012.
At Michigan, Lynch will be advising the universitys president, Board of Regents, and other executive officers. Hell also supervise a legal department of approximately 20 lawyers and will have primary responsibility for managing the institutions litigation, litigation avoidance, legal policy issues, compliance, and any major transactions.
Lynch began his legal career as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He subsequently joined Shea & Gardner in Washington D.C., but determined that taking a job in the public sector would give him more trial exposure.
He served for seven years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S Attorneys Office for the District of Columbia, which was great opportunity, says Lynch, to run my own cases. Lynch later joined the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he was assistant chief litigation counsel.
Lynch acknowledges that the field of higher education is highly specialized, but hes confident that his experience has prepared him for the new role. My job is to bring my judgment to bearand my leadership, he says.
Hes excited to apply almost 20 years of experience analyzing statutes, complex regulations, litigation risks, and policy choices to a new context. Public education is so incredibly important to the country, says Lynch, and I wanted to be a part of this field.
While at the DOE, Lynch was an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he taught white-collar crime, and Georgetown University Law Center, where he taught summer courses on evidence. Lynch has given himself at least a year to focus exclusively on his new position, although he says he will miss being in the classroom.
Lynch has a bachelors degree from the University of Rochester, where he majored in English and economics. Although he spent a lot of time during his undergrad years practicing jazz piano at the Eastman School of Music, he says, I ultimately decided my talents were in the law, not in playing.
Lynch spent two years on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant before earning his law degree in 1995 from Georgetown University.
Musical interludes notwithstanding, Lynch says that as far back as he can remember he knew that he wanted to practice law. He still sees the desire to do meaningful work as something all those in the profession share.
I always wanted to be a lawyer, he says. I saw that people with legal jobs had a way to make a difference in society.