University Counsel, Employment

Job Description


University Counsel, Employment

Position Overview:  The University Counsel, Employment will serve as a member of the Office of the General Counsel’s (“OGC”) labor and employment team, while providing advice and counsel to the Human Resources leadership team on a broad range of employment issues for the University. This role will also provide expert guidance on areas specifically relevant to the HR organization, such as leaves of absence (e.g., FEHA, FMLA, CFRA, PDL), wage and hour compliance (e.g., California Labor Code, FSLA, AB5, PAGA), EEO compliance, labor relations, and policy development. Other responsibilities for this role include proactively communicating with the HR community at large on new laws and emerging trends that can impact operations, drafting and reviewing employment-related agreements, in close collaboration with other lawyers within the OGC. An ideal candidate for this role will demonstrate willingness to accept significant responsibility and manage a challenging workload within a fast-paced environment. This individual will also manage employment litigation, including overseeing outside counsel, from the pre-litigation stage through resolution for the University and Keck Medicine of USC. This position reports directly to the Associate General Counsel, Employment, and will be located at University Park Campus with periodic reporting at the Health Sciences Campus. Experience in higher education or health care preferred.

The University Counsel, Employment will execute USC’s vision while championing USC’s culture and values. This individual will maintain honesty and impartiality when providing counsel and advice; develop trusting, credible relationships; demonstrate ethical judgment; practice confidentiality; contribute to an inclusive environment by building and maintaining collaborative relationships with team members, peers, and leaders across the HR organization; and uphold the principles of the USC Code of Ethics.

Compensation: Competitive salary and benefits.

Location: Los Angeles, CA (Downtown, Los Angeles)

Relocation: Locals strongly preferred.

Bar: Member in good standing with a State Bar.

About The University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is one of the world’s leading private research Universities. An anchor institution in Los Angeles and a global center for arts, technology and international business, USC’s diverse curricular offerings provide extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary study and collaboration with leading researchers in highly advanced learning environments.

In a comprehensive 2020 ranking,  The Wall Street Journal  and  Times Higher Education  ranked  USC 18th among more than 1,000 public and private universities . Among all California institutions — public and private — only USC, Caltech and Stanford University ranked within the top 20. Of the 150 Universities surveyed in the western U.S., USC ranks No. 3. Among the top 25 schools, USC ranked No. 2 in engagement and No. 5 in environment, a measure of diversity and inclusion.

Amongst the most distinguished undergraduate and graduate programs in the world, USC is home to the following institutions of professionalism, including but not limited to: Letters, Arts and Sciences, USC Leventhal School of Accounting, USC School of Architecture, USC Roski School of Art & Design, USC Marshall School of Business, USC School of Cinematic Arts, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, USC Gould School of Law, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, Keck School of Medicine, USC Thornton School of Music and the USC School of Pharmacy.

In addition to a number of highly ranked academic programs, USC is highly regarded for a number of NCAA sports programs which include: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, rowing, beach volleyball, soccer, track and field and water polo.

About Keck School of Medicine of USC

The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California was established in 1885 as the region’s first medical school and the second professional school founded at USC.

In July 1999, the University of Southern California announced that it had received a gift of $110 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation—the largest gift ever made to a medical school at the time and the largest single gift ever made by the Keck Foundation. USC, which committed to raising $330 million in matching funds, renamed its medical school the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California to recognize the generosity of the foundation. The gift has enabled the Keck School to pursue strategic initiatives aimed at transforming the Keck School of Medicine to one of the most highly regarded and competitive medical schools in the nation. A large portion of the gift is being invested in the expansion of Keck School research efforts, including the new Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute. The Institute aims to expand scientific knowledge of the causes, progression and treatment of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other debilitating illnesses.

Scope of Potential Responsibilities

  • Proactively advise management on compliance with employment laws in a manner that accomplishes business objectives without undue risk. Provide legal advice with regard to both faculty and staff in the labor and employment areas, and supervise outside counsel as needed.

  • Provide timely guidance to the Senior Vice President of HR and leadership team on employment and labor matters, including policies and procedures. Establish rapport and strong relationships with HR employees of all levels. Act as a trusted advisor and initiate proactive and preventative measures to help facilitate a beneficial employee experience.

  • Advise and manage employment matters at the pre-litigation and litigation stages. Oversee outside counsel. At times, this individual will also assist on other general litigation and student affairs disputes as needed.

  • Advise as to a variety of labor related legal matters, including, but not limited to: interpretation of collective bargaining agreements, union organizing campaigns, and grievances.

  • Serve as subject matter expert for internal employee relations violations of university policies, laws, and regulations. Develop a thorough understanding of the university's business, people, markets, brands, facilities, customers, and competitors to identify trends, anticipate issues, provide solutions, and formulate appropriate long-term strategies.

  • Perform other related responsibilities as requested and when necessary. The University reserves the right to add or change duties at any time.

  • Candidate Characteristics

    The ideal University Counsel, Employment demonstrates:

  • The ability to think proactively and act quickly.

  • Positive can-do attitude.

  • Strong interpersonal skills.

  • Independent & resourceful, yet will seek advice when appropriate.

  • Strong organizational skills & attention to detail.

  • Qualifications

    The successful candidate must have the following minimum credentials:

  • J.D. degree from an accredited law school.

  • Valid license to practice law in California and good standing with the California State Bar Association.

  • Minimum five years’ employment law experience.

  • Possess thorough knowledge of federal and California state employment laws and regulations including but not limited to FEHA, Wage & Hour, FMLA, CFRA, California Labor Code, PAGA, AB5, and FLSA.

  • Experience working at a law firm or as in-house counsel with a heavy focus on labor and employment law.

  • Experience with diversity and inclusion topics and concerns.

  • Exemplary interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively with individuals at all levels of an organization.

  • Strong reputation for discretion, integrity, judgement, responsiveness and common sense.

  • Exemplary oral and written communication skills.

  • Experience overseeing employment and labor alternative dispute resolution and litigation, and working directly with HR leadership.

  • Fluency in Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint).

  • Preferred qualifications include experience with the following:

  • Seven or more years of employment law experience.

  • Experience in Higher Education or Health Care.

  • Experience managing outside counsel on employment litigation matters.

  • Ability to understand business strategies and translate them into actionable and compelling HR initiatives and programs.

  • Ability to listen and engage positively and successfully with University faculty and staff as well as internal and external business partners.

  • Ability to think resourcefully as well as proactively drive positive, progressive change.

  • Substantial problem-solving skills honed through experience managing and completing complex projects.

  • Experience in a unionized environment.

  • Strong client relationship skills.

  • Minimum Education: DoctorateMinimum Experience: 5 years Minimum Field of Expertise: J.D. and member of California Bar. General business law with litigation experience.

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