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Top Ten Things Your Lawyer Knows – And You Should Too Association of California Community College Administrators Annual Conference (ACCCA) | February 26,

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Presentation on theme: "Top Ten Things Your Lawyer Knows – And You Should Too Association of California Community College Administrators Annual Conference (ACCCA) | February 26,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Top Ten Things Your Lawyer Knows – And You Should Too Association of California Community College Administrators Annual Conference (ACCCA) | February 26, 2015 Presented By: Mary Dowell, Partner Emeritus, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, and Camille Goulet, General Counsel, Los Angeles Community College District

2 Ethics matter Conflicts of Interest: You must avoid even the appearance of a conflict –Pay attention to oversight.

3 Ethics matter Competitive bidding laws: they do serve a public purpose –Besides which, they are the law.

4 Ethics matter Transparency: the Brown Act and Public Records Act are here to stay – get over it.

5 If the District has a rule, you have to follow it Even if it is more strict than the law requires, you have to comply.

6 If the District has a rule, you have to follow it Keep all policies and procedures up to date –You do not want to find yourself defending old rules that have become obsolete, or worse, illegal.

7 Free Speech is complicated The First Amendment requires you to tolerate some pretty nasty statements.

8 Free Speech is complicated Everyone has a point where their willingness to tolerate speech breaks down – be ready for it.

9 Free Speech is complicated Porn and abuse are not (usually) protected by academic freedom.

10 10 7. Just because it’s he said/she said doesn’t mean it didn’t happen Due process matters: get both sides of every story. When you investigate an issue, understand the difference between a fact and a conclusion.

11 11 6. Everything you look at or write down will become public What you say or write in anger will go viral. If you look at it, it will look back. As mentioned, the PRA is here to stay.

12 12 5. Good writing matters Educationese really is worse than legalese.

13 13 5. Good Writing Matters Do you know what this means? “The Board shall complete an analysis of its self assessment and formally adopt expected outcomes and measures for continuous quality improvement that will be assessed and reported as a component of the immediately succeeding self- assessment.”

14 14 5. Good writing matters Learn how to write simple declaratory sentences that don’t use passive voice. Imagine you are trying to explain what you wrote to a jury.

15 15 4. Don’t lie – even in kindness When you testify, you are sworn to tell the truth, so do it from the beginning, e.g., in evaluations. Dishonesty undermines all the other good work you’ve done – it will come out, and it will define you.

16 16 3. Ignorance is not bliss Involve counsel early and often. –We don’t need to be, or even want to be, in all those meetings, but ask us questions! Know what you don’t know, because what you don’t know can hurt you, or worse, the District.

17 17 2. You are responsible to make decisions Technology is only a tool: it should not substitute for good judgment or provide an excuse for not making a decision. You need to understand what “shared governance” really means and doesn’t mean – and be ready to make the tough calls. When you have more than one legally defensible path, we will not tell you which one to take.

18 18 1. If you decide to litigate, be in it to win Litigation costs money and time – lots of both – so be committed. Settlement decisions involve questions of policy as much as money.

19 19 Thank you Mary L. Dowell Partner Emeritus | Los Angeles Office | Camille Goulet General Counsel | LACCD |


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