University Hires International Law Firm

The University has retained one of the world’s largest law firms — New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — to represent it in what a University-issued statement referred to as “ongoing matters.”

David Parker ’80, UNC’s interim vice chancellor and general counsel, said in the statement: “As we move through a period of transition in the University Counsel’s office, we sought to identify a single national firm to provide outside counsel and integration on numerous pressing legal challenges.” Parker, who also received his law degree from Carolina in 1984, took over when Leslie Strohm left the University in November to take a similar job at the University of Louisville.

“With Skadden’s diverse expertise, it is best suited to assist the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of University Counsel on several issues the University is addressing,” Parker said. “The firm is well-resourced to provide comprehensive advice and counsel on a wide range of related litigation matters, including what we anticipate will be very extensive pretrial discovery obligations.”

The statement did not specify the nature of “pretrial discovery obligations.”

The University already works with a number of North Carolina-based law firms that assist it on various matters. Skadden has offices in 23 cities around the world.

Parker and others in the general counsel’s office will manage and oversee Skadden’s work.

Leading the firm’s work for the University will be Patrick Fitzgerald, a partner with Skadden’s Chicago office who joined Skadden in 2012 following a distinguished career in public service. In 2001, Fitzgerald was appointed the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1988 to 2001. As special counsel for the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel in 2007, Fitzgerald was in charge of a federal investigation that resulted in the prosecution and conviction for perjury of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

The Skadden team also will include, as needed, partners Michael Scudder, a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; Stephen Robinson, former U.S. District Court judge in New York, former U.S. attorney in Connecticut and former special counsel to the director of the FBI; and Lisa Gilford, an experienced class actions attorney.

No state-appropriated funds or tuition dollars will be used to pay for the work done by Skadden, the statement said, which added that total costs will not be available until work is concluded and the University receives all related invoices.