Sunday, November 22, 2009

Meeting with Vice President and General Counsel Debra Zumwalt

On November 3, 2009 I met with Vice President and General Counsel Debra Zumwalt. VP Zumwalt runs Stanford's legal office, which has approximately ten full time lawyers. The office also provides legal services for the hospital. VP Zumwalt reports to the President of the University and has a dotted line responsibility to the Board of Trustees. VP Zumwalt spends a lot of time in meetings. She attends meetings with the University Trustees, SLAC Board of Overseers, Hospital Board, Stanford Management Company Board, and many committee meetings. She also sits on the President's Cabinet and attends a weekly Cabinet meeting.

The legal office practices preventative education. Examples of this are teaching students that downloading copyrighted material is illegal and hosting sexual harassment training every two years for employees. Stanford's legal office is smaller than that of a similar sized corporation as a result of employing very experienced lawyers that work efficiently.

Stanford is a $5B/year enterprise and has legal issues on virtually every topic. Many of the legal issues Stanford deals with are on the cutting edge of law. One example is the Google Books project, which brought up novel issues surrounding copyright law and the question of what exactly is digitizing a work. Another example is stem cells and importing a particular gas from Russia.

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