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Name and title: Joseph Brennan, vice president of external affairs and general counsel. Age: 40 Organization profile: The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is one of the largest private research museums in the United States, combining the educational role of its public exhibits with a vast research mission that employs about 200 scientists who explore the world. While the museum was hosting some 2 million visitors last year, its scientists were conducting research into evolutionary biology, archeology, paleontology and ethnography. The museum has 650 employees and operates on a $100 million annual budget. The Field’s 20 million-piece collection includes Native American garments, wooden bowls from the South Pacific and dinosaur fossils, including the Tyrannosaurus rex remains the museum has christened “Sue.” The collection was begun in preparation for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, otherwise known as the Chicago World’s Fair. The museum adopted its existing name in 1905, to honor its first major benefactor: department store magnate Marshall Field. In 1921, the museum moved to its current lakeshore location near downtown. When completed in 1923, the structure was the largest building in the United States. Legal team and outside counsel: Brennan draws upon the part-time assistance of another lawyer who handles visa issues for traveling scientists and other research-related work, such as purchase agreements for adding items to the museum’s collection. Brennan expects to hire more staff eventually, as the museum’s mission-and his own workload-expand. The museum uses the equivalent of two full-time attorneys from outside law firms each year, contracting with three longtime Chicago shops: Baker & McKenzie (for litigation); Lord, Bissell & Brook (employment matters); and Bell, Boyd & Lloyd (intellectual property). Milwaukee’s Quarles & Brady is on call for employee benefits, pension, bond and related matters. Lord Bissell is helping to defend the museum against a lawsuit brought by survivors of a 1997 Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem who hope to seize Persian antiquities from the museum as reparation. The lawsuit also seeks items from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. The plaintiffs argue that Iran, which is alleged to have underwritten the attack, is the real owner of the items, and should forfeit them in payment of the millions of dollars in damages they won in separate litigation. The Field Museum has countered that the items shouldn’t be subject to the confiscation. “We have good title to these items,” Brennan said. “I think we will resolve this in the next few months very much to our favor.” Daily duties: Brennan’s job pulls him into a variety of legal fields. He estimates that he spends about 40% of his workday on general legal matters, including intellectual property, contracts, employment, museum store business and building issues; about 30% working on agreements with other museums and governments; and the rest on a mix of community and government relations work, support for the museum’s educational mission and repatriation requests from people seeking the return of artifacts. With respect to intellectual property matters, Brennan helps the museum protect its rights to everything it creates, from educational videos to merchandise bearing the name of its famous dinosaur, Sue. When Sue and other exhibits travel around the world, Brennan’s work turns to the transactions and contracts that underlie the lending of those exhibits to other institutions. He does similar work for temporary exhibits, such as the recent Tutankhamun show, that are lent to the Field. As the museum’s scientists collaborate with other researchers on everything from studying the genetic makeup of organisms to inventorying the biological diversity of rural Peru, the Field increasingly is focused on public health and conservation issues. For instance, museum researchers have been testing birds in Illinois in an effort to understand West Nile virus better, which originated in birds. Brennan spends considerable time fielding requests from Native American groups seeking to recover sacred items from the museum’s collection. He’s received about five of those requests since taking his post in November 2005. Each triggers extensive research into how the item was acquired (most were purchased, he said), and how it fits in with the current understanding of the requesting group’s spiritual beliefs. The museum has repatriated several hundred items, including pipes, prayer hoops and masks. “We strive to be incredibly respectful,” Brennan said. “One way or another, it usually goes back.” Brennan’s government and community relations work recently has included negotiating with the city over traffic rules to allow easier access to the museum’s entrance. He pays attention to donor and trustee relations, which includes working with people considering bequests to the museum. His support for the museum’s educational mission includes work on the legal aspects of creating exhibits and lectures, providing materials to schools and helping schools to develop science curriculums. Route to present position: Brennan calls himself an “IT outsourcing and telecom refugee,” referring to his earlier years working for information technology and telecommunications companies. At T-Systems North America Inc., he was general counsel and secretary from April 2001 until he joined the Field. He did a two-year stint as corporate counsel at BlueMeteor Inc., an electronic commerce startup. Earlier, Brennan worked for the Chicago city government as a deputy purchasing agent, director of contracts and assistant corporation counsel. His first job after graduating from Indiana University School of Law was as an independent contractor providing legal research for now-defunct Miller, Faucher, Chertow, Cafferty & Wexler of Chicago. Personal: Brennan spends much of his free time helping wife Molly Tschida Brennan raise their two sons, ages 15 months and 4 years. Then there’s his gradual rehabilitation of their 1939 house in suburban Highland Park, Ill.-he’s been doing painting, plastering, plumbing and electrical work. He found time over the last few years to take up the guitar, and has been working on developing an acoustic blues style. Last book and movie: The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life, by David Mindell, and Blood Diamond.

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