Monday, July 9, 2018
As a legal advisor to both for-profit and not-for-profit ventures for more than 30 years, I have had to learn about the business operations of new clients many, many times. The facts are so important in these knowledge acquisition processes (which generally take time to complete). The more experienced one is as a business lawyer, the more adept one is at getting the right facts--and analyzing the legal risks, rights, and responsibilities they represent or signal.
As a law professor, I have had many opportunities to experience joy from the work of my students. They do such amazing things! As the careers of my former students lengthen and deepen, my pride in them often exponentially increases.
With all that in mind, I bring you today a podcast featuring one of my beloved former students. She doesn't work for a law firm or a major multinational corporation. She is not a general counsel. Instead, she works for a relatively small nonprofit organization in a broad-based planning and development role.
The podcast consists of an exposition/interview by that former student, Betty Thurber Rhoades. In the podcast, Betty explains--from soup to nuts (i.e., application to move-in)--the process of getting disabled veterans into modified or new homes through Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors (JAH4WW), the nonprofit organization for which she works. Betty started her career post-law school thirteen years ago as a Presidential Management Fellow working for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on regulatory policy matters. She stayed with the VA until March 2017, ending her VA career as Executive Management Officer (Chief of Staff) to the Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, before beginning her work for JAH4WW. Totally impressive; totally heartwarming.
What I love about this podcast (other than how proud it makes me of the work Betty does) is the utility this kind of description would have/could have for a lawyer who wants to volunteer or otherwise sign on to help with one of JAH4WW's housing projects. She mentions in the podcast the contributions of lawyers; she talks about acquiring and titling property, identifying and selecting contractors, etc. She is, of course, herself a lawyer, so she is sensitive to the facts that matter. I could easily create a checklist for an engagement letter from this podcast--and get a good overall sense of the "givens" and uncertainties of the representation, too.
We probably ought to talk more in this space about the work that some of our students do once they graduate. I know I have done very little of this. But Betty's work and podcast inspire action--at least for me.