Gregory S. Davis, Sr. VP, General Counsel & Secretary of DeVry Education Group ()
DeVry Education Group Inc. was founded in 1931 by Herman DeVry as the DeForest Training School, offering instruction in electronics, motion picture, radio and TV skills.
By the 1970s, the Downers Grove, Ill.-based institution began to branch out into bachelor’s degree programs and created the MBA program that would become Keller Graduate School of Management in 1974. In 1991, DeVry went public and has since made a major move into health care education. DeVry has about 125,000 students, 14,000 employees and 2013 revenues of $1.96 billion.
Gregory Davis heads an 11-­lawyer team that also includes a director of contract management. “We have a lead counsel for each of our institutions, and that person serves as a consigliere to that business,” he said.
Last year the biggest challenges involved “litigation/regulatory matters and M&A,” Davis said, including two small divestitures. The department won dismissal last June of a shareholder derivative action that alleged the company breached an incentive plan by awarding its chief executive officer Daniel Hamburger too much in stock options.
Some 60 outside firms include Schiff Hardin on corporate and securities regulation matters; Seyfarth Shaw on employment; Bryan Cave on intellectual property; Dow Lohnes and Power Pyles Sutter & Verville on regulations; and DLA Piper on international law. Other firms include Winston & Strawn on consumer and student finance work; Mayer Brown on mergers and acquisitions; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher on higher education and regulatory litigation; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Kaye Scholer on specialized litigation.
DeVry has “a fairly meeting-heavy culture” that absorbs a significant part of Davis’ day. “I work hard to keep my door open” and sometimes nights get late — he keeps a fridge in his office in case he has to stick around for both lunch and dinner.
Davis described DeVry as “a performance-oriented organization,” adding that he sets annual goals with Hamburger for the department. “A lot of what I do is manage the delivery of legal services to the organization. But I also get down into the weeds on matters of critical importance to the organization.”
ROUTE TO THE TOP
The Indianapolis native graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana Uni­versity and in 1987 with a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law.
He worked as a commercial litigation associate at Seyfarth Shaw until 1991, when he became associate general counsel to the former Arthur Andersen LLP and its Andersen Consulting division (now Accenture PLC). He began in for-profit education in 2003 by joining La Petite Academy Inc. as vice president, general counsel and secretary before joining DeVry in 2007.
Davis and wife Julie have three children, aged 14, 16 and 17, and a Labrador puppy named Decker. “We have a place on a lake in Wisconsin that is very close to the Kettle Moraine State Forest. We love to spend time there as a family.”
Davis, “a pretty voracious reader,” recently finished “One Summer” by Bill Bryson, “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough, “The Secret River” by Kate Grenville and “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni.