Jan. 3, 2021

#002: Andrea Stagg - College Deputy General Counsel

In this episode I speak with Andrea Stagg (@AndreaStagg) who is the Deputy General Counsel at Barnard College in New York City. In the conversation we discuss how a college internship led her to a career in higher education law, the unique joys (and challenges) of working in the general counsel's office at a college or university, and the power of e-mail as a means to convey concise and kind legal advice.  



You have to understand your audience, and sometimes your audience is a vice-provost with a PhD and 30 years of teaching experience, and sometimes your audience is a middle level manager in a finance office, and sometimes your audience is this person who's head of—head of groundskeeping, and you need to be able to reach everybody and understand the question and make sure that you're answering the question. You have to make sense to everybody and you need to make sure that you use the right tone with everybody and you have to learn—when you're in-house, you really learn people or people's expectations are. Like, I know who I can “Hi” and I know who I have to “Dear.”


Welcome to How I Lawyer, a podcast where I talk to attorneys from throughout the profession about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it well. I'm your host, Jonah Perlin, a law professor in Washington, DC.   

Now let's get started. 

In this episode, I speak with Andrea Stagg. Andrea is currently the deputy general counsel of Barnard College in New York City. Andrea is a graduate of Rutgers, go Scarlet Knights, and the George Washington University Law School, go Colonials. She previously worked at the University of Maryland and the State University of New York, based in Albany.

In our conversation, we talk about her path to a career in higher education law. Some of the projects she's worked on, from COVID planning to service animals, to lactation rooms. And we also talk about the importance of a good, short, legal advice email, and general tips on finding success in the profession.

If you look at her resume, you might think that this was the plan from the beginning, but in reality, like so many career paths, it looks far more obvious today than it did when it started. Here's Andrea. 


This was definitely not the plan all along. I don't know that there really was a plan. Probably, like a lot of people, I was really politically active in high school and college, very into politics. And I wanted to get a job in DC for the summer ‘cause I was going to Rutgers, which isn't far from where I grew up. And I thought, well, if I could get a paid job in DC for the summer, that would be great ‘cause I couldn't really afford to go to school in DC, but I could work there in summer. 

Getting a paid internship in Washington is very hard. So I applied to many, many jobs, like hundreds of jobs, and I didn't have any connections there. But I ended up getting a job for my university, for Rutgers, working federal relations. A lot of people don't know this, but if you went to a pretty big school or if you went to a research university, for sure, they have a lobbying office in Washington. A lot of them are even in the same building, the Hall of States near Union Station.

It was a paid internship. It was political, sort of, but it also gave me background in higher education as a regulated industry.


And so what kind of things does that office do?


What it does now is a little bit different than what it did then. At that time, there were still a lot of earmarks for special projects, which is not as much—it's not as much today. So you would literally get a faculty project written into a bill like, oh, and you know, this many thousands for this school to do this research about cranberry bog disease in South Jersey, or, the spray-on skin for the battlefield, but that can use another way that could like seal wounds, hygienically, that this professor at Rutgers invented….But also there was, you know, weighing in from a policy perspective. So the president could write a position paper or my office could draft, the office could draft a position paper on the president's behalf about what they think about new regulations coming out or certain issues.

When I graduated from, I graduated from college early, and my boss from Rutgers has become a lifelong friend and mentor who has definitely shaped my life and career and continues to, to this day, years later. And she brought me back after I graduated early, because, for like, sort of the high season, which was when you make these written earmark requests.

So back in the, you know, winter of 2006, I sat writing Rutgers earmark requests for New Jersey’s congressional delegation and all these different projects who want funded and why and where it come from and how much and all the background. So I did that for her after graduating and before going to law school.  

All of this meant that I knew something about higher education when GW posted a law clerk job in the office of general counsel. So I was probably the only person who applied, who knew anything about higher education as a regulated industry and from working on some policies. I mean, I basically knew what FERPA was, so I kind of joke that just because I knew what it was, I got the job at GW and their general counsel's office and that I kinda just knew some of the acronyms that applied. And so I got the job there and that sort of set me rolling, but it was all about me being really political in college and wanting a paid job in DC, and the one I happened to get was in higher education.


So you have that summer working in the GW counsel's office. What did you like about it, since you ended up making a whole career out of working for colleges and universities?


I love that it was really collegial. So I got to work with a lot of different attorneys about a lot of different things. And GW has a fairly large general counsel's office, or at least they did at the time, so when you're in a bigger GC’s office, there might be people who really have specialties. So someone who just does labor. Someone who just does real estate, someone who oversees litigation.

But at a smaller GC’s office, you do a little bit of everything. So one day, I'm researching something about an international affiliation with some university where we're going to have an exchange of students. And the next day I'm thinking about a new rule in DC about lactation rooms.

I remember writing a memo about a new DC law about having to have lactation rooms and were the ones that we had on campus enough, considering the new rules and, you know, writing a memo about whether or not the spaces we had in the different buildings complied with the new regulations. Because not only is higher education regulated as education, it's also regulated as an employer, right? So they say, we're not just a school, we're also an employer and we're regulated on, on those sides too.

The variety really is what got me thinking, oh, this is great. It was hard after working there. It was really hard to imagine doing one practice area. Like, I interviewed with law firms and they did, you know, labor and employment. And I said, I had to interview with a particular practice area in mind, but the problem was, I didn't want to just do labor and employment. I also wanted to think about international agreements. I wanted to think about regulatory compliance and I wanted to think about, you know, all these other things and you can't really do that in other jobs, I guess.


What do you do today? Tell me about a day in the life of a deputy general counsel at Barnard.


I think it might be, you know, it's hard to think about what it was like kind of before the pandemic, right, ‘cause it's so different now. So day-to-day, I run the general counsel's office because our general counsel is also the executive vice president. There's days where I'm reading contracts or weighing in, consulting with attorneys on my team about, you know, issues they're having with contracts they’re reviewing, negotiating leases. We're actually, we're not a huge landowner, but we have some properties and a lot of our leases have turned over the past few years. So I've had to dip my toe a little bit more into commercial real estate than I anticipated, because that was, that was not a thing when I worked for the state. I wasn't, like, finding tenants for our buildings. 

But there's also a lot of strategic decision-making that goes on at the college that the higher level you are, the more you're involved. And I feel like everyone in the general counsel's office is considered part of those senior leadership conversations, whether you're associate GC or me, or the general counsel, you get involved in these conversations because everyone kind of wants a lawyer in the room to kind of pick up on what might be an issue. 

So of course, so anything that could happen on campus really always has the potential for some sort of legal issue. Policymaking usually involves the people who will be owning that policy.


So what's an example of the kind of issue that you would be brought in to discuss?


I'll just give you an example of something that's been big over the past, I don't know, five years or probably more than that. Or emotional support animals...that people can have emotional support animals in their residence, including—this is where we come in—residence halls, right?

So this was a huge issue for colleges, universities, when it became apparent that this applied to us and we had to follow it and we had to allow animals. And what does that mean for roommates and suitemates and allergies and what if someone doesn't take care of their pet, and can they bring them to class and what if you ever, you're like us, we're a campus where actually, dogs are not allowed on campus. You're not allowed to walk your dog through the campus. 

The campus is very small. You’re not allowed to walk your dog through the campus. And so how do you square that with that you have to allow people to have their emotional support animal? And by the way, their emotional support animal could be a ferret or a boa constrictor. Like, it could be, it could be anything. So this is an issue where it's like, okay, how do we make sure that we're complying with the law, but also doing something that works logistically from a student affairs perspective? We work closely with these different areas of the college to try to deal with, you know, things that have come up in their area.

And they all hear about it from so many different associations that are about higher education jobs. So there's like groups for every different kind of job. And there's student affairs professionals who all know each other and talk to each other and have groups where they talk about these issues, but you always then need the legal perspective too, so that they can say, okay, here's something that's been going on on campus that we want to all address and talk about. They need to make sure they're also following whatever laws might apply.


Right. So it sounds like you have a lot of clients, and they may, sometimes not all on the same page.


And that is, it is a challenge. I mean, ultimately the client is the institution, right? So, and I always tell people, I don't represent them personally. Can't give legal advice to, I don't give legal advice to students. We do what's best for the institution. 

And so there are times where I feel like people over the years have asked me, you know, to weigh in on something or to make a certain decision. And I've always said, there are times of course, where you could, I could defend either, right? You could do this, you cannot do this. And I could defend either way and I'd be happy to defend either way. But there are times where I give advice where I really think only one path is justified, but all I can do in the end is give advice.

Right. I don't make a decision. I just give the advice. So if I don't necessarily agree with the path I think people are taking, I think everyone who has, any lawyer in that situation should write down what they said. Right. As I said, I strongly advise that you do this because but you know, in the end I don't make decisions.

So I think, you know, you just have to be careful with clients who are having different viewpoints. The office and the CFO might have a different opinion about something than the provost office, than the Dean, the Dean's office. But I try to stick to sort of like what's legally required and, but if they can use me to, they can throw me under the bus to get their way, I let them, especially when they're, it's not with each other.


As you know, I teach legal writing, so I'm having first-year students in my classes write memos. And one of the biggest things that I hear from my students all the time, their first semester of law school is, “Why am I telling the person to whom I'm writing the memo what I think the answer is? Shouldn't I be trying to get them the answer they want?”

And so I would love to hear sort of how you communicate with all these people and how you walk that line between being predictive as opposed to persuasive,


First, I want to tell you that when I interviewed for my job, my boss wanted me to give her an, as a writing sample, an email. Because we write a lot of emails. I don't, and I'm not a big believer in really long emails—unless you have to, there's certain times where you have to—I'm not a big fan. So she wanted to see a short email where I gave someone a legal answer, and that was what my writing sample for my job. I just think that's important . 


Is that something you would do to sort of people you're hiring now is ask for that short of short, legal advice email?


Yes, because I don't want to read your 15 page position statement to the EOC or the state division of human rights. That's, it's too much, and it's been workshopped. I'd rather see that the email you send is probably more on the fly and it's way more similar to what you're going to be doing day in and day out. And that's what people are going to be telling me about. Like, oh, you know, I asked Jonah this question and he, I didn't understand his answer, or he didn’t get back to me or he was—I would love to hear, oh, I asked Jonah this question. He got back to me really quickly. I totally understood. It was clear. 

You know, you can't get people...Again, these are internal clients. You're not writing to a partner to tell them what they can then think about. You're giving people something that they are then going to use, right then.


Yeah. Legal advice in the moment. So, tell me what you're looking for when you're assessing sort of a new junior associate GC’s email. What does that email look like in your mind?


It's kind, right? You don't want to be, you know, patronizing or condescending in any way to someone who's asking you a question, even though sometimes you're like, I can't believe you're asking this question. Haven't they been doing this for 15 years? What? Hasn't this come up before? 

Sometimes that's the question you ask yourself in in-house practice, especially like, hasn't this come up before? What did we do then? Because a lot of times there's not a legal answer, there’s a policy answer. And a lot of times the policy answer is being consistent with your, with the rest of, with what you’ve done before. As long as what you've done before is not wrong or bad. But if, if you can go either way, you should be consistent. Otherwise there can be, there's red flags with being inconsistent. Right. So I, you know, we're looking for concise, good tone, you know, “hope this makes sense”, “please let me know if you have any further questions”, really clear about what we talked about, what we didn't talk about. Letting someone know if you need more information. I am a big fan of, “let me think about that.” Right? Like I don't, not that I expect that to be the right example. Like you asked me this question, I need more information. That's not going to be a writing sample, but that's something I would hope would be, you know, present in exchange previously. But I think, you know, for me, brevity is important. When I edit something, I am known for my slicing and dicing.

It will, ‘cause I just, I love to edit things down. Like how do we make this more clear? Because especially because you have to understand your audience, and sometimes your audience is a vice-provost with a PhD and 30 years of teaching experience, and sometimes your audience is a middle level manager in a finance office, and sometimes your audience is this person who's head of—head of groundskeeping, and you need to be able to reach everybody and understand the question and make sure that you're answering their question. You have to make sense to everybody and you need to make sure that you use the right tone with everybody and you have to learn—when you're in-house you really learn people or people's expectations are. Like, I know who I can “Hi” and I know who I have to “Dear”. 

Some people I just have to “Dear”. I just have to, I don't love, not love dear, but I have, some people need to be “Dear” and some people need to be, “I hope your semester is going well.” You know, and some people don't care, I can just go right to it. But you have to know who is, who’s who.


One of the other things you said is sometimes you need to be able to ask for further information and further facts, and that's all about, right, the role of the lawyer as kind of an issue spotter, but you’re also doing commercial real estate and Title IX and employment. How do you sort of keep track of all of these different areas in a way that you feel comfortable being able to ask, sort of, spot issues and answer questions? Does that just come from experience or are there things you do to sort of be prepared for all these various areas?


I mean, definitely it helps to have experience and I feel so different working now than I did 10 years ago. And, providing similar kinds of advice to similar kinds of clients. Right. Makes, every year it makes a difference. And there's things I've seen before, but it's really all about work.

You have to talk to people, you have to talk to colleagues. So if I'm doing something involving real estate, I want to talk it through with my colleague who also works on real estate or, bounce something off of someone who deals with our commercial tenants. You know, there's issues that have a lot of different sides to them, as you can imagine.

So maybe there's a financial side, but maybe there's a human side about, let's say there's an issue with faculty housing. Well, I want to talk to someone who's on the faculty side, but also want to talk to someone who's in our real estate side, who deals with the licenses for that.

So there's a lot of different sides and it's just making sure you talk to everybody. So I rarely do anything in a vacuum. I'm always asking people, hey, have you seen this? Have you worked on this? Well, what do you think about this? And a lot of times when you just bounce something off someone we find in our office, we get a lot more clarity and when we were still working in person, we would pretty much eat lunch together almost every day. And so often, you know, we could interrupt each other and be like, oh wait, there was something about that a couple years ago. Wait, oh, I don't even need to talk to you. You just talk to this person, that person, and making those connections is so important and being good at your job. 

I don't think anyone can do a great job sitting by themselves in their office all day and not talking to anybody. The best, like, for me, the way that work gets done and the way that I've learned so much, is by talking to colleagues, both in my institution and then colleagues in higher education from other schools who are so generous with their time.

And when I tell people about the way higher ed is because I try to recruit a lot of my friends who work at law firms or other places, I try to get them in to higher education when there's a job that kind of seems to fit them. And I've been successful a couple of times, which is, which has been nice. It's not over, I have a while left to try to keep bringing everyone in, but it is the most collegial practice area. People are so generous with their time. You can call up someone you've never met because we're in the same association, national association of college, colleges and university attorneys. People will just take your call. You'll just, you can email someone who is a general counsel of a major school and they'll just call you off like, oh, hey, I got your email. We'd love to talk through this issue with you. People are unbelievably generous with their time. So you can, you can learn in the news that someone had a similar issue and you can just literally call them up and they'll talk to you. It's amazing. It's, I think it's unlike other areas.


Tell me about a time that you felt successful in your job or a project that you worked on that was really meaningful.


I feel like there's things I'm really proud of that got resolved, but they were really contentious while they were going on. I think getting through those things and then being able to implement them, I'm so proud of it. And it was so much work and so much time.

That's why they stick out, but they're not feel-good stories from beginning to end.  


That's so true for so much of law, right? So much of legal success is this story you don't hear.


Right. So I'd say one is negotiating the resolution agreement between the State University of New York on a system-wide level with the office for civil rights, New York office. And this was in the time of, Barack Obama was president. The office of' civil rights was really big on doing these compliance reviews, sort of audits. And they wanted to review us as a system. And that's really intense. There's like half a million students. It's the largest system. You know, in the United States lawyers’ public system.

And I was sort of the lead attorney on that. This was a function of being newer to the office. So I had the bandwidth. And this was all about, like, four months or five months before the issuing of a very now infamous April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that gave what a lot of people perceive to be new requirements for colleges and universities to follow about peer sexual violence and how to respond appropriately. And it really changed the way we run those areas, staff those areas. It changed so much in higher education, but this is all before that. So my boss said, you really know more about this now than anyone else does. So why don't you kind of take the lead with this compliance review?

So anyway, this was a very, very long process. I mean, I think we got this letter in 2010 and we ended up, I think our, I mean, there was so much going on. There was major document collection. There were on campus visits and interviews. I don't think it wrapped up until the fall of 2013. And I was involved that whole time and working with campuses all over the state of how to do, you know, like document collection, what to give to the government.

There was a whole thing of what to give them, what not to give them, what to redact. When they wanted specific, you know, case files, all of these things. And then the government was going to shut down because of, you know, as they do from time to time, in September of 2013. I was supposed to have a baby and go on leave in October.

And I said, like, if you don't finish this by this date, like, I'm going to be gone. And they kind of, you know, gave us a hard time and said, well, that's not really our problem. And I said, well, I've been working on this the whole time. I'm the one who works on it. So it is a problem, like, you should be able to get this done now. You know, surely the office of civil rights isn't going to discriminate me on the basis of my disability. 

But we ended up getting it done and it worked out and it had, you know, sort of long time compliance obligations or responsibilities, but it took a good couple of years of my life, while I was also representing campuses on all other matters and doing arbitrations and doing, you know, reviewing contracts and doing all this other work, but also on a system-wide level, navigating us with lots of support from my colleagues and my supervisors, you know, navigating us through this compliance review. 

But it took a couple of years and it was really exciting. And then it became something I did, you know, became part of my bio. She represented SUNY through their, you know, voluntary resolution agreement with the office of civil rights, which, you know, it sounds like it might've taken a couple of months, but actually took years. 


It sounds like, the biggest problem of the day for you or problem of the year for you changes over time, right? Universities are sort of constantly responding to the moment. You know, one of the things obviously is, how this pandemic is going to affect colleges and universities, particularly from a legal perspective going forward. Where do you see sort of your profession going, say in the next 5 to 10 years?


It's interesting ‘cause you can see the shifts over time. I mean, there's the big shifts like a local apperentus, you know, that we're in the place of, of the parents and you know, that's, that pendulum has gone back and forth over the years and people always talk about that, but you can see sort of the big issues of the day and a big issue that's come up the past couple of years that’s been building—It's always been there, but it's been building and I think the pandemic exacerbates it and it really shines a light—is accessibility. And, you know, there's what you're required to do for students and for faculty and staff, and then there's what you can do.

And I think that this pandemic has really been shining a light on what we can do that's above and beyond. And maybe the requirements will even change now that our system has really changed. You know, we, there are a lot of places like Barnard that didn't even have a policy about telecommuting or, I know a lot of people who never worked from home before until now.

And of course I have friends who work for tech companies, credit card companies, finance, and they've been working from home one or two days a week for years, but I know plenty of people who've told me they're not allowed to work from home. That just, it's not part of their culture. And of course now they've been doing it for a long time.

So I think that a lot of colleges are going to see that shift. I think a lot of colleges and universities are struggling financially and that's going to be a tough thing to meet. I don't know when we're going to be business as usual. We don't have sports at Barnard, but I'm sure that our schools, that schools with the big sports where that's big income, are suffering because they're just not doing it the same way.

I think different schools are facing different challenges for sure. But it has a huge financial impact obviously. And some are feeling that much more than others. And I wouldn't be surprised if there are schools that close, you know, over this because they just can't afford to stay open.

The shift to online is really expensive as I'm sure you've seen as a faculty member, you see like what the technology that's required. Just getting everyone who needs them professional Zoom licenses, right? It's not free. And  you have all these classrooms that we're not using and it's not like everyone owns all these buildings. It costs money to maintain these buildings that we have, that we're not using it. It costs money to employ people, to help maintain those buildings. All the people who are supporting the IT that's going on. All this infrastructure is just really expensive. All the software that we want to be using. New stuff, old stuff.

Some schools just were not set up for online learning. Others, split on a dime. So I think that those who do it well are going to be in a really different place in a few years than the ones who were struggling to make it happen. It's also different to say, well, we're gonna like, scramble and figure out something for March to June. Okay, well, now we're gonna figure it out for fall. Well, here, here we are in December of 2020, and it's not over. So people who are still feeling like they're treading water, how long can you tread water? I guess.

We were, I mean, we started talking, I had my first COVID, yeah, we didn't call it COVID then— we had our first coronavirus related conference call Super Bowl Sunday. I had mine. There was probably stuff before that, but I had, my first one was Super Bowl Sunday. And of course, you know, and the question that a lot of schools are asking at that time is what are we doing with our students who are coming back from China and from Japan? Are there other places where there were outbreaks? We also were sending students places. So we, I mean, everyone was having this issue in higher education. We had students going you know, here and there and for spring study abroad and it was like, should they go, should they not go? I even had family members who were in college asking me, should I, you know, they're going to stay in for study abroad in spring, which is—spring is a very high time for study abroad.

So you have all these people from the U S going all these places, should they go? We started to read the writing on the wall that, you know, over time or for a couple of weeks, maybe people should be coming home. We want to come home before the lockdown, right. And it was a huge issue for colleges and universities, the spring, getting people home from study abroad.

And that was before the pandemic hit the U.S. and then we all closed and went virtual. So first we were like, we got to bring people home from these other places in the world that are starting to have outbreaks. So it started for us kind of earlier than probably other companies or organizations.


So someone has been listening and they're thinking, yeah, this sounds like an amazing profession. This is what I want to do with my life. What's the pitch? What's the path to doing this exciting job?


I think one thing someone can do if they want to get any job, the most important thing is geographic flexibility, which of course right now, most—so many of us are remote so it doesn't matter. But that's what I've always told people who are looking for a certain kind of job. You need to be willing to get up and move. So I knew I wanted this kind of job. I knew I needed, I did a fellowship in a higher education office after law school. And there are some of them. There's a handful of fellowships in GCs office where you work for one or two years.

There's one at Penn state. NYU has one. Actually my former intern at Barnard is now the fellow at NYU, which is very exciting. She started this year. So there is—GW has one. Or they did, at least they did. Hopkins used to have one. It was only academic year, whatever those. So there's a handful of them.

And you know, I, after I had mine at Maryland, I said like, gosh, I need a junior position in the general counsel's office. Those don't come up very often. A lot of people go from being outside counsel and they're brought right in to higher ed and to kind of keep doing what they're doing, but in-house.

So they get, keep what they were, whatever they were doing for the school, but then get more. Right. So I needed a junior position in a bigger office. And it came up in Albany. I was living in Washington DC for years. Finally, you know, my dream of living in Washington as an undergraduate came to realization, came to fruition and I got to live there for law school and for work.

And I said, I told my husband, I said, if I apply to this job in Albany, I think I'm going to get it. ‘Cause it was really, it was written kind of, for me, it was like for a junior person in higher education who had a little bit of experience, like that's actually just me. So I don't think if anyone else, they didn't, they didn't seem to be looking for someone with five years at a law firm. You know, they were looking for a junior higher ed person. And he said, sure, why not? And we moved and it was great. And so I think, you know, I had a Dean in law school who told me sometimes you need to move to Ohio. You know, ‘cause like that was the only offer he got when he was in law school, it was a law firm in Ohio.

He wasn't from there, he was from Maryland. So I always tell people like sometimes you need to move to Ohio and I'm so happy I did.


And for listeners from Ohio, you can fill in the blank for, you can move to Michigan, right?


I could, and I could move to Albany, whatever. You can go somewhere for a good opportunity that gives you the kind of work that you want and you don't have to live somewhere forever. Actually, I made so many amazing friends and contacts when I was in Albany. And I look at it, I look back on it, very fondly. I was there for five years and I got experience that I never would have gotten otherwise. But I think really what's interesting is you can enter higher education, you can enter a GCs office from anywhere. You could do real estate for 30 years, and then go work in general counsel's office.

There are people who I've seen, hired and I've come to be very lucky to know, through higher education associations who did something totally unrelated beforehand and through some connection, by some Lark, I don't know, they ended up at general counsel or working at a GC office. So there really is no particular path you can get there, right? You can, there's a way to sort of say, okay, I'm going to work at a law firm and do labor and employment. I want to work at a firm that represents colleges. I want to try to, you know, talk to the partner who has a relationship with the college and get staffed on some of these projects. There's a route but you can also do something totally different for a very long time and work in higher ed, which is interesting.


Right. And I guess, the flip side of that is for people who have never thought about working in higher ed, like what's, what's the pitch to making, to making that pivot and coming to higher ed?


I mean, if you want to do something a little bit different every day, right? So it's in-house practice, which working as in-house counsel anywhere is usually has a lot of variety. Again, if you're in a smaller in-house office, I have friends who work companies that are small and we talk about stuff all the time that’s very similar. As far as the labor employment and, and regulations that apply to us as an employer in the city of New York, very similar to friends who work at small companies. So we will talk. Oh, did you update your sexual harassment? Did you update your policy about safe and sick leave from the new New York City law? Yes. Oh. Did you know about the new guidance? Yes I did. You know. So there's a lot. There's a lot that's not higher ed, right. 

In a small GCs office, that's just, there's tons of variety. But then there's the college flavor. I just always say, I love college. I love living on a semester, semester basis. I call January spring, right, still. So to me, you know, almost 40. And like, to me, January is still spring because it's spring semester and I live on academic year, you know, it's AY 21. That's just what it is. And I love college and I love it on campus and seeing our students. And I love when spring comes and our Magnolia tree blooms and the sun melts off of our Athena statue and I love winter break. It's so silent. And then, you know, all the students are back. So just like a buzz, a hub. I love commencement. I love watching our students in their caps and gowns crossing Broadway. And you know, there's a real energy to that. It's exciting. And it's exciting to cycle through people. It's exciting to see students become who they're going to become over four years and then go off into the world and become alumni who've done amazing things. And that's what makes it different from a company, right?

‘Cause you have, you have these students who are doing these amazing things. I love going to things that are totally unrelated to the GC’s office, like the poster presentation of our summer research institute. Right, right. What research have our students been working on, getting that, you know, watching them present posters for the first time, undergraduate, it's very exciting and they just take it as practice.

And I get to walk around and ask them about their summer research. And you don't get to do that at, being in-house at a company. So I'd say it has the benefits of a small in-house company. GC would be, would be really similar as far as the variety of work, but then you have this really amazing element of, of higher education and seeing what students can do or seeing what faculty do. And they're pretty amazing.


I want to thank Andrea Stagg for agreeing to be one of my first guests on the How I Lawyer podcast. What I love most about our conversation was her ability to paint a picture about higher education law, which candidly is a practice area that I didn't know a whole lot about. It's a practice area that combines the variety and excitement of a small company general counsel's office with the unique challenges and joys of college life.

I also really appreciate that she was willing to share some of her tips and tricks for being an effective lawyer, including writing emails that are not only accurate and concise, but also kind. Finally, I want to thank you for listening. They certainly don't teach podcasting in law school and so I'm grateful for your support and your patience as I learn this new medium. 

I would so appreciate hearing your feedback. What did you like? What did you dislike? What do you want to learn more about or less? Who do you want me to interview? Seriously, I hope you'll reach out. I can be reached at howilawyer@gmail.com or you can find me on Twitter @JonahPerlin. If you enjoyed the show and haven't subscribed yet, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or @howilawyer.com where you'll get a notification each time a new episode is up, along with a brief summary of the guest and the topics that we cover.

Thanks again to Andrea for participating in today's episode. And thank you for listening to this podcast. Happy New Year, and I hope you have a great week.