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Institution's lawyer finds client a hybrid

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In-House Counsel

Kiply Drew knows her job as an in-house counsel for the one of the country’s top 100 universities means every day is different.

That’s why the associate general counsel at Indiana University can don any number of fun titles colleagues use when referring to the type of work she does each day: the construction queen, eviction queen, and mold or storm water queen. On occasion, she might even have to become a “mattress attorney” to navigate the varying legal issues that have come before her in the 16 years she’s been with the Bloomington-based school.

While those designations bring laughs internally and are all in good fun, they serve as gentle reminders for Drew about how quickly her job can change with every phone call or e-mail.
 

drew-kip Indiana University associate general counsel Kiply Drew has worked at the Bloomington campus for 16 years after leaving private practice. She said you have to be prepared for anything. (Photo submitted)

“You truly never know what comes with the next phone call,” she said. “You have to be prepared for anything, and the word ‘generalist’ almost doesn’t cover everything you have to become a mini-expert on. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Drew’s 21-year career has taken her from private practice to the corporate counsel arena, and paved the way for her most recent application and interview for an opening at the Indiana Supreme Court where she clerked right after law school. Though she was one of nine semi-finalists considered for the post and didn’t make the final cut, Drew has no regrets and said the experience has at least caused her to reflect more on her role in the legal community

“It’s probably too soon to speculate what kind of impact this may have on my career,” she said. “Being selected as a semi-finalist and contemplating the prospect of actually joining them on the court was exciting and inspiring. But being in-house at IU has been so varied, so interesting and, frankly, so all-consuming that I have not given much thought to pursuing a career change.”

Graduating in 1989 from what’s now Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington, Drew took her first position clerking for Justice Roger DeBruler on the state’s highest court before going to work for the environmental group at Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis. She returned to her beloved Bloomington in February 1994 as an associate at Andrews Harrell Mann Chapman & Coyne, but within a few months Drew’s career took a decisive, unexpected turn.

Associate general counsel Alvin York at IU died of a heart attack and the university asked the Bloomington firm to help. Drew took on the task, assigned to help the university’s legal department assess and complete what York had been working on at the time of his death. She spent half days at IU billing the university as a firm client, and then went back to the firm for the afternoons to tend to her other clients.

That summer, IU decided to expand the legal department and add another lawyer. Drew wondered about applying but wasn’t planning on it until her husband nudged her to do so. She started Aug. 1, 1994, joining four other associate general counsels.

In her in-house role, Drew has handled a wide variety of legal issues and describes herself as one of the few remaining “general practitioners” left. Some of the lawyers have specific topics they might know best, and the team turns to them first, but they all have some level of familiarity with those topics, Drew said. For example, when she started, her background in environmental law meant that she was the environmental lawyer for a time. That led to her titles of “mold queen” and “storm water queen.” Since then, she’s taken on more of a focus with construction issues, Drew said.

“As time passes, you develop these areas of expertise that maybe started out because of a cold call from someone at the university,” she said. “Then, they call you first the next time something comes up.”

For the most interesting aspects of her job, Drew immediately perks up when talking about constitutional issues. She sees situations ranging from due process and housing rights to police force search-and-seizure issues. With the university grounds being public places and being state-owned, they always have to be mindful of what might be constitutionally off limits. Drew recalls the past presidential election when two candidates visited and rented Assembly Hall for speeches, and the legal team had to make sure they weren’t infringing on any legalities there.

First Amendment issues have been challenging and engaging to her personally, and she enjoys that work the most. But aside from all that, Drew also deals with budget topics and contracting, and those three elements are what she says makes the job unique for the in-house world.

“Universities are a hybrid creature, and I like that variety the best,” she said. “We’re very comparable to a small city or corporation, but we’re not and in many ways and are very corporate in some of our dealings.”

On the flip side, she said one aspect she enjoys the least is being the “eviction queen” when it comes to removing students from campus. Drew pointed out that IU is known as the “nicest landlord in town” for allowing students to remain through the end of a semester.

Then there are other issues that arise at a moment’s notice, Drew said in reflecting on one instance in particular. At the time, she’d been caught up on a constitutional free-speech issue about how demonstrations could take place on campus. Drew was at her desk working when she heard a “ping” from her computer regarding a new e-mail.

“I turned around to look at the e-mail that didn’t have any subject line or context, just asked a question: ‘Can we sell used mattresses?’” Drew said. “I blinked my eyes and didn’t know what to think.”

Picking up the phone, she learned that the employee was asking how the IU hotel – that was buying all new mattresses – could dispose of the used ones. Her research taught her that the university could sell them, as long as they met health department regulations.

“Thankfully, that’s the only time I’ve had to be a mattress lawyer. But it just shows that you have to be prepared for anything,” she said.

She also directs and acts as university liaison to outside counsel who are hired to represent IU in litigation. That means reviewing and drafting documents that have to be filed in state and federal courts, and she keeps her internal clients informed about the case status.

“We’re about problem prevention, rather than disaster recovery,” she said. “That means always having to look at would could be a small problem now but turn into something bigger down the road.”

Her boss, vice president and general counsel Dottie Frapwell, said Drew is a crucial member of the legal team that can’t be replaced. She echoed the thoughts that the in-house lifestyle is much different than a traditional law firm or public sector position in many ways, but it’s also the same in other situations.

“Being a university general counsel, you’ve got to know a little about everything,” she said. “Some have said it’s like rowing on a river that’s a mile wide and an inch deep, and no single day is the same.”

For Drew, being able to walk around the campus and see her legal work transformed into practical results is what she enjoys the most about her position. When she enters the IU Auditorium and sees murals on the walls that were refurbished about a decade ago, she knows that her work with people at the museum and consortium to get that done was a critical component.

“When I go in there and look at those murals, I feel like I had a part of that,” she said. “That experience of being able to look around and see that you contributed to something, you know that you’re part of something good.”•

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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

  2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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