Lesley University General Counsel Shirin Philipp is a 2020 Leaders in the Law In-House Leader, given to general counsel and staff attorneys for “for being leaders in the community and forward thinkers.”
Philipp accepted the award on Thursday, March 5 at the annual Leaders in the Law dinner.
A native of Newton, Massachusetts, and current Cambridge resident, Philipp saw law as a way to engage in civil society and says, “I wanted to be an advocate for my clients.” After graduating from the Boston University School of Law, she worked at the law firm of Foley Hoag in Boston for 15 years, becoming a partner, before transitioning to her role at Lesley in 2011. Philipp was drawn by the university’s mission and the opportunity to forward that mission as an in-house lawyer.
“When you’re in a law firm, you’re on the outside; you represent a lot of different clients,” she says. “As a general counsel, you are at the table, side by side with your colleagues. That has been really enjoyable.”
Philipp’s work encompasses every facet of the university, from consulting with the Board of Trustees to student-related issues and, of course, keeping abreast of new laws related to higher education.
Many young lawyers are unaware of such opportunities, says Philipp, and she hopes the Leaders in the Law honor will bring more visibility to this avenue of practice.
“It’s a great opportunity for the legal community to see the work of lawyers in higher education,” she says.
In addition to her work at Lesley, Philipp is a member of the Higher Education Law Steering Committee of the Boston Bar Association and is a member of the Finance and Risk Committee for Root Capital, a nonprofit in Cambridge that works to improve rural communities by investing in small farm businesses.