Closer engagement with the laboratory: changes coming to the Office of General Counsel

John Myer

John Myer, general counsel, wrote this column.

The Office of General Counsel is undergoing a number of changes aimed at improving our service to Fermilab, and I want to take the occasion of my first Fermilab Today article to share some of these changes.

What’s in a name?
You might have already noticed that we have a new name. Formerly the Legal Office, we are now the Office of General Counsel. We provide counsel to all parts of the laboratory on a variety of legal, regulatory and compliance matters, and our new name better reflects this broad role. As counselors (or “consiglieres,” as we are often referred to by a certain member of Procurement), our value to the organization is not just the legal work (though, clearly, this is important); we also provide creative problem solving and critical analysis supporting the laboratory’s most challenging projects from beginning to end.

Bloom where you are planted
Another change already under way is our move from the fourth to the second floor. This move will provide much needed space (reasons for which I will explain below) and will make us more accessible throughout the organization. Both are keys to fulfilling our mission to deliver world-class legal services, creative problem solving and counseling to America’s premier particle physics and accelerator laboratory.

Early engagement and partnering
Over the next several months, the department will also see several important personnel changes and a realignment of how we interact with the laboratory at large. After nearly 20 years providing legal leadership at Fermilab, former General Counsel Gary Leonard will be retiring. I have benefited tremendously from Gary’s presence since my arrival, and I know he will be missed by many of you. As Gary departs, we will add new attorneys and additional support personnel. And as new personnel arrive, the Office of General Counsel will realign to encourage more direct contact and involvement with each Fermilab department. The realignment, details of which will be announced in the coming months, is designed to help our office better serve Fermilab’s mission by partnering with our clients at early stages of projects that are under way and in development.

All of these changes aim to foster better communication and earlier engagement between Fermilab’s departmental units and the Office of General Counsel. To that end, I encourage you to stop by the second floor, email, or call, and introduce yourself. By all means, pass along your favorite lawyer joke or ask for one of mine. But make sure you call on us early and often.