Gail M. Norris has been named vice president and general counsel for the University of Rochester, President Joel Seligman announced today. Norris' appointment, effective Jan. 1, is the result of a national search that began following the announcement of Sue Stewart's retirement, effective Dec. 31.
"University Trustee Bob Witmer and I conducted an extensive search for a new general counsel, and Gail stood out in a field of exceptional candidates," President Seligman said. "I was particularly impressed by the background Gail would bring to our University from her previous experience as general counsel of a successful business and partner in a leading law firm, as well as the great skill she has demonstrated here in transactions and compliance issues that span our University. It meant a great deal to me that she also had overwhelming support from our senior leadership team."
"The vice president and general counsel provides critical advice to the Board of Trustees on many important matters," said Board Chairman Ed Hajim '58. "I am delighted with the outcome of this search and look forward to continuing to work with Gail in her new role."
Since joining the University in 2005, Norris has served as senior legal counsel for all aspects of operations, including litigation management, risk management, business and tax matters, and conflicts of interest. She has managed complex legal matters related to research, technology transfer and licensing at the University. In March 2007, she became director of the College Office of Technology Transfer, developing strategies for the licensing and commercialization of intellectual property. In 2009, Norris was named vice provost of technology transfer, responsible for the development of University-wide policies in this area, as well as the procedures for review of invention disclosures, patenting and licensing.
Norris began her legal career in the city of Rochester in 1983 as an associate at Nixon Peabody LLP. For a decade beginning in 1990, she served as partner in Nixon Peabody's corporate law practice, representing private and public companies worldwide on a broad range of transactions and counseling issues, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. In 2000, she joined the biopharmaceutical firm Celltech Americas in Rochester as vice president, general counsel and secretary, and was responsible for all legal matters for the U.K.-based company's U.S. operations. From 2003-04, she also served as executive sponsor of product life cycle management at Celltech, providing overall project leadership for a cross-functional team of 15 scientists and managers focused on growth strategy and expansion.
Norris is a regular blogger for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, writing on innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business issues.
Admitted to the New York State Bar, Norris graduated from Syracuse University and Albany Law School of Union University. She is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel and the National Association of College and University Attorneys.